Sunday, 16 July 2017 00:23

WORLD RECORDS FALL AT THE LONDON STADIUM AS BRITISH ATHLETICS TEAM CLAIM EIGHT MEDALS IN EVENING SESSION

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The British Athletics para team hosted a ‘Super Saturday’ all of their own at the World Para Athletics Championships this evening as Richard Whitehead (coach: Keith Antoine), Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell), Hollie Arnold (David Parker) and Sammi Kinghorn (Ian Mirfin) all struck gold for the team inside the London Stadium, with the latter pair setting world records along the way.

Also among the medals on a memorable night were Toby Gold (Jenni Banks) and Andy Small (Rick Hoskins), silver and bronze winners respectively in the T33 100m, David Henson (Roger Keller) in the T42 200m and Kadeena Cox (Brian Scobie) in the T38 100m.

After what she described as a ‘heart-breaking’ fourth back at London 2012, Arnold, entering the championships as a two-time F46 Javelin world champion and the world record holder in the class, threw a magnificent series to become a triple world champion.

Asserting her dominance from the very first throw with 41.38m – a championship record - last year’s Paralympic champion followed up with 42.13m, before launching to 43.02m in round four to add 1cm to her own F46 world record.

“That was a fantastic series for me. I went out there to smash it and I did,” said an elated Arnold.

“It was great to get the world record; I knew that fourth throw was close but I wasn’t sure if I’d got it. The support of the crowd was absolutely amazing - I'm really delighted.”

Joining Arnold in topping the podium and setting a world record, Sammi Kinghorn set the stadium alight with a blistering push in the T53 100m to win her first global medal.

Straight from the gun the young Scot put a gap between herself and the rest of the eight-strong field, with her gloved hands turning over at rapid speed as she crossed the line in 28.61, a world record for the class.

Reflective and visibly emotional, Kinghorn said: “I had the two fastest girls outside of me and I thought if I can catch them before the bend then I have a chance of getting a medal.

“Gold - I still can’t say it, and I can’t believe it. I am so thankful to that crowd, they were incredible. I was so scared of flat-lining but as soon as they called my name I chilled out a bit and had a little bit of a wave; that helped. “

“There’s nothing much better than that. I really did begin to tie up at the end and I heard the crowd and I knew that I could give that little bit more. I can’t thank them enough. They were amazing.

“I can’t believe that I went through that line and it was a world record. It flashed up and I had no idea.”

One of many highly anticipated track events this evening, the T42 200m saw Richard Whitehead and David Henson take to the track, with both, like all the Britons this evening, receiving an ear-splitting reception upon their names being read aloud by the commentary team. Come the gun, Whitehead broke out slower than usual before eventually reaching top-end speed come the bend. Moving away from South African teenager Ntando Mhlangu, Whitehead put daylight between him and the field to come home in 23.26, a championship record time for his fourth world title.

“You put in perspective when you ask me about the crowd. Expectation on me is pretty high. I get to the starting line today and there were some problems but I got on with it and delivered the performance that I needed to do. I said to myself the same as in 2012. I said ‘don’t mess this up’.

“As a British athlete you do feel pressured. But with pressure comes a performance like that and as you come off the bend it just reignites those moments in 2012 and when I came off that bend all of a sudden that whirlwind effect is pulling you to the finish line. That was a special moment.

“If you are British athlete and you are able to do it in your home stadium it’s something special”.

From lane two, medallist David Henson (Roger Keller) finished like a train to eat up the ground on the rest of the field, claiming another superb bronze medal on the global stage to add to his Paralympic bronze and European silver over the same distance with a posting of 24.73.

Post-race Henson said: “I know that I can run the bend faster than that so it's a slightly disappointing race from that perspective but I never had any doubt that I would come through at the end.

“The support of the crowd was phenomenal. Now I need to go back and focus on the 100m. I didn’t qualify for the final in Rio, so that’s the goal here: to get into the final.”

After unofficially breaking the world record earlier this year in Loughborough over 200m, Sophie Hahn made sure it counted on the night as she tore away from the field with a superb run from lane nine.

Only showing signs of fatigue in the final 20m, Hahn dipped for the line to clock 26.11, a revision of her own world record.

Beaming afterwards, she said: “It feels phenomenal; I never imagined I’d get the world record. It doesn’t matter about times as long as I got the gold; I’ve been running very well this year and have a great team behind me. It feels fantastic. I am so happy. The noise was phenomenal out on the track, I am so proud.

“It’s been incredible. It was fantastic to have my team-mate (Kadeena Cox) getting the bronze to have two British athletes on the podium is great”.

After running a superb bend to come off in the silver position, Cox was pipped with five metres go by Germany’s Lindy Ave, finishing third in a lifetime best time of 27.15.

Disappointed but content with bronze, Cox said: "That was disappointing really. I thought I had it in me to take gold - it was frustrating. I could have been so much quicker but I’m not going to dwell on it as I’ve got a few to go.”

“The positives are that my start was good. I executed the first 80m of my race really well. It just didn’t work - the transition out of the bend. I just didn’t stay strong in the home straight and that’s the bit that I’ve worked on hard.

“It was a quick race and I just wanted to follow Sophie [Hahn] home. I guess I just tensed up a little. It was great to have the crowd behind us. I just wish that I could have given it more.”

In the T33 100m, consisting of a field of four including three Britons in Toby Gold, Andrew Small and Dan Bramall (Peter Wyman), the race for silver and bronze medals went to the wire. Pushing each other all the way, it was Paralympic silver medallist Gold who claimed the second step of the rostrum, edging out eventual bronze medal winner Small 17.62 to 17.78.

“I was actually unexpectedly calm tonight. I found Rio a lot harder because that was my first really, really big competition. It was amazing to come away from Rio and have the next World Championships in your home country: you don’t get better than that. “I felt well-prepared on the start line and I knew if I focused on my race the result would come. I’m really, really happy but that crowd was amazing.”

For Small, a second bronze on the global stage came as a happy return, with the Stockport athlete commenting: “It was a close race and a good race and everyone pushed each other. Almutairi (Ahmad Almutairi, gold medal winner) came through mid-way through the race and that seems to be what he does.

“He’s amazing but we gave him a good race. The amazing thing is that I enjoyed it - it’s all good experience and that’s what counts if you are going to be in it for a while. I’m going to take it year on year, we’ve got the Europeans next year.”

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