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Sunday, 16 July 2017 14:26

DAVIES BECOMES TRIPLE WORLD CHAMPION

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Throwing in the event in which he won Paralympic gold back at London 2012, Aled Davies added a third F42 Discus title to those won in 2013 and 2015 with a championship record at the World Para Athletics Championships in London this morning.

Courtesy of a second round best of 51.54m in what was a consistent series in the nets, his gold was Britain’s seventh of these Championships.

Davies’ main challenger, Tom Habscheid of Luxembourg, pulled out a big personal best of 46.83m with his last throw but had to settle for silver, while Bulgaria’s Dechko Ovcharov was third with 39.22m.

Following his sixth and final throw an ecstatic Davies took to the field to take in the adulation from the home crowd, with his attention now turning to Saturday evening’s F42 Shot final.

“I think this is what it’s all about; first of all I’d like to thank everyone for coming out – I wouldn’t have been able to put that performance together without you,” he said.

“If you’re out there with five guys, you’re in the same boat and anything can happen, but I know on my day what I’m capable of throwing.

“I’ve been here so many times and this stadium holds so many special memories. It was a Sunday five years ago that I won gold here at the Paralympic Games, so to come out here and do it all again is amazing”.

The first Briton in track action this morning, Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) put the hammer down in his T54 1500m heat to push the pace. After a surge at the bell which saw Rawat Tana, the reigning World Champion from Thailand, push through for the lead, Chiassaro fought back to challenge well, with both athletes recording same time of 3:11.06 on the line, the fastest of all three heats, with Chiassaro placing second to secure automatic qualification.

The Harlow athlete said: “I was quite nervous this morning as my tactics in the 1500m let me down in Rio (Paralympic Games). We’ve been working on those tactics ever since then and you can see they worked today and I felt quite comfortable. The last thing I wanted to do was get stuck in third or fourth on the inside lane so I couldn’t get out. So I wanted to take the front, or at least be near to it – it is a similar tactic to Marcel (Hug) and it obviously works for him.

“Most of our focus has been on the 400m and 800m but the 1500m works quite well for me. Sometimes the first few laps are quite slow so it allows me to use my speed and hammer the last two laps.

“The track was amazing; that is very quick. It will be great to get out there later on (for the final); hopefully I will be in the mix at the top”.

2012 Paralympic Games silver medalist Graeme Ballard (Trevor Palmer) showed early form in his opening men’s T36 200m heat, leading until the final 10m when Krzysztof Ciuska of Poland edged ahead for the win past. Mancunian Ballard recorded 25.08 to the Pole’s 24.84 and moved through comfortably to tomorrow’s final. Mohamad Puzi of Malaysia took the third qualifying spot.

Ballard, who at 38 years of age recorded a lifetime best over 200m this year, said: “I executed the race exactly how I wanted to. Before I came out to the Championships I ran a 24.93, so I think I’m capable of equalling that or even bettering it.

“For me it’s about getting back to top fitness and enjoying the sport. My training group is fantastic – we’ve been doing more endurance work mixed in with some speed which has helped. I’m aiming for sub-25 in the final”.

Bristol’s reigning 400m Paralympic Champion Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk) found a personal best of 25.29 to qualify in fourth place from the ensuing heat. Drawn in lane three with Ukrainian 2015 world silver medallist Roman Pavluk on his inside, Blake faced a stiff test.

Come the gun, it was Australia’s James Turner who took the limelight though with a searing sprint to a new world record mark of 24.15. Brazil’s Rodrigo Parreira da Silva was second with Pavluk just edging Blake into fourth, with Blake’s time enough to secure passage to tomorrow’s final as a fastest non-automatic qualifier.

Blake said: “I am just happy to get out & qualify for that final tomorrow, especially in a personal best. I’ve done what I needed to do today and anything can happen in that race. It is great to have two Brits in the final (with Graeme Ballard) so it is all go now to focus on preparations on that.

“It was fantastic to be back in this stadium – I have good memories of 2012 – so to be competing on this track again is fantastic”.

Earning his first senior British vest, Zak Skinner (David Hull) ran superbly to close in on the leaders in his men’s T13 100m, recorded a lifetime best of 11.15 to take fourth in a race won by Ireland’s Jason Smyth. Skinner, from Tonbridge, narrowly missed out on a non-automatic qualifying slot for tonight’s final.

Reflecting afterwards, he said: “That was crazy: that London crowd, they were amazing. They cheered me on the whole way and not many people can say they’ve had an experience like that.

“When I heard the time initially I thought he [the track commentator] said 11.50 and I was a bit annoyed, but when I heard it properly I was in shock. I’m glad to have run a PB and done Great Britain proud today”.

British co-captain and three-time world champion Dan Greaves (John Godina) brought the morning action for the British para team to a close with a fighting performance in the men’s F44 discus final.

Lying fifth overall Greaves heading into round six, Greaves produced his best throw of 57.01m to move up to fourth overall, agonizingly short of the 57.33m recorded by Ivan Katanusic in the preceding throw – a personal best when it mattered most for the Croatian.

For Greaves, a stalwart of British teams for over 15 years, the disappointment was evident: “I’m very heartbroken; it wasn’t the performance I know I am capable of so it is really tough for me. I don’t know why because I felt in great shape and was warming up nicely with a 59m throw but that’s elite sport sometimes.

“It is just heart breaking when you know you are better than that performance.

“I know I have been around for a long time, and I have had some great success. I’ve got a family now but I have got to go away and think about this performance because you can’t get emotionally wrapped up in it. I don’t want to bow out on that performance and this feeling.”

Of acting out the role of a team captain and the accompanying pride, he added: “I wanted to go out there and lead by example. Hollie (Arnold) did amazingly last night and after all those performances I was so pumped. I think that makes it more gut-wrenching! But the team are doing fantastically well and I am so proud of them all.”

Kieran Tscherniawsky (Jim Edwards) was lying fourth in the men’s F33 shot put final after his first three throws with 9.28m from his second attempt.

The Sleaford athlete twice registered 9.18m in subsequent attempts but ended fifth in a competition won by Kamel Kardjena of Algeria.

“I am really pleased with my performance and the distance is an big improvement from Rio,” commented Tscherniawsky.

“The placing is the same but I am happy to be throwing well at a world championships. I was consistent and that is all I can ask for; I did my best.

“The atmosphere was a bit surreal. We had quite a bit of time between throws so I was taking the noise from the crowd in; they were really great. “

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