After a historic evening last night in the Estadio Olimpico, the ParalympicsGB athletics team collected a further five medals including gold from defending T34 100m champion Hannah Cockroft (coach: Jenni Banks).
Only beaten once in her senior career, Cockroft showed her championship prowess, cruising to victory in a new Paralympic record time of 17.42 (-0.1). Completing a British one-two was Kare Adenegan (Job King), who raced to a new lifetime best of 18.29 to take a well-deserved silver. Carly Tait (Rick Hoskins) came through in sixth in a time of 19.73 on her Paralympic debut.
An elated Cockroft said afterwards: “I can relax now; I have come here and done what I needed to do. The 100m is my favourite event – I have never been beaten over it and didn’t expect to be beaten over it. It was amazing to come here and compete in front of this massive crowd, it’s a magnificent stadium and I absolutely loved it out there.
“I was so nervous coming into it. I came in wanting that 100m gold – the 400m and 800m are still quite new to me, there are some strong girls in it. I’ve worked hard over the last four years so I am still going to go out there and give everything but I’ve got the gold I wanted now, and I’m proud to be taking it home.”
“Kare (Adenegan) has never come as close to me before in the 100m – she pushed a brilliant race. In the 400m and 800m, it is all about who gets the strongest start. I have got my race tactics in my head but you never know what is going to happen. The competition is stronger than ever so it is difficult to go out and win every day.”
Adenegan, the youngest member of the athletics team at 15 added: “I am so so delighted. It is a huge blessing because I have been working so hard. These last four years have been tough and all those cold training sessions and all those times I’ve felt like giving up, this makes it all worth it.
“I was so happy with my start. I could just see that no one was really around me but I was thinking, ‘oh wow, it’s silver, silver, silver!’ I just pushed it so hard and I was praying that it would all go well.”
“It’s so satisfying to come here and set a personal best. 2016 has been such an up and down season for me. At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t necessarily hitting the targets I wanted to and I think it just proves that Job King (coach) knows what he is doing because I’ve pretty much peaked to perfection.”
Within minutes of Cockroft’s triumph, Toby Gold (Jenni Banks) and Andrew Small (Hoskins) gave British fans more to cheer about as the duo claimed silver and bronze respectively in the T33 100m, with Dan Bramall (Hoskins) narrowly missing out in fourth.
Gold, who won gold in Grosseto at the IPC European Championships showed his finishing speed to cross the line in 17.84 (+0.8), with Small close on his tail in a time of 17.96.
The 21 year-old, who has Brazilian connections in his family said: “It feels immense – unfortunately I couldn’t get the medal to go with my surname but I can’t really complain. I executed my race exactly as I wanted to do. To do it on my Paralympic debut is just crazy. Regardless of who is fastest on paper, you never know what might happen, especially with the pressure of the occasion. My race wasn’t perfect, but you have to make allowances and try to take everything into a positive context, I’m mean, it’s a Paralympic final!
“I came here expecting a medal from myself and I’ve done it so as far as I’m concerned the job is done. To me it’s about confirming to myself that I can do it on the big stage.”
Small, was ecstatic to see how far he has come in the last few years: “It’s a pretty impressive achievement from not doing any sport four years ago isn’t it? I had a 95% chance of not living when I was born; I only weighed one pound six. In 2012, I wasn’t doing sport and I was watching the likes of Dave (Weir) and Hannah (Cockroft), our brilliant colleagues. It’s remarkable that I have ended up winning a medal at the Paralympic Games three years after taking up the sport.
Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine), the current Paralympic, world and European champion put down his marker on the Games setting a new Paralympic record of 23.07 (+0.5), just outside his world record set at the Anniversary Games in July. Despite stumbling in the closing stages of the second heat, Dave Henson (Roger Keller) powered through his opening round qualifying as a fastest loser in 25.26 (+0.6).
A composed Whitehead commented after his race: “There was quite a bit of pressure as a defending champion, but it’s all about rewarding the audience out there today. I enjoy running and obviously winning is great, but hopefully people see me today and find some inspiration from that.
“I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries of sport and I feel with the support of UK Athletics, my coaches Keith Antoine and Liz Yelling, Tim Stevenson they have put me in a great position. I’m 40 years old and I’m still pushing the boundaries of Paralympic sport. I feel like I’ve got so much more to offer and hopefully I can show that in the final.”
In his fourth Paralympic Games, Graeme Ballard (Trevor Painter) was unable to repeat his silver medal winning heroics from London 2012, as the veteran sprinter finished fifth in the T36 100m in 12.84 (-0.3).
Matching Ballard’s performance was Kieran Tscherniawsky (Jim Edwards), who produced a best of 8.49m in the first round, which saw him finish in fifth place in the F33 shot put.
After finishing seventh in the T47 long jump last night, Polly Maton (Colin Baross) was in the blocks for the 100m. It was a successful outing as the teenager qualified for the final in second place in her heat in 12.98 (+0.3).
After two disqualifications from his heat Mo Jomni (Jenny Archer) secured a place in the T53 400m final, but unfortunately Mickey Bushell (Archer) missed out on a place in tomorrow’s showpiece.
Earlier in the day, Sabrina Fortune (Anthony Hughes) won bronze in the F20 shot put with a career best throw of 12.96m.
Paralympics GB Athletics medal tally: (12)
Libby Clegg & Chris Clarke – T11 100m
Sophie Hahn – T38 100m
Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
Hannah Cockroft – T34 100m
Stef Reid – T44 long jump
Kare Adenegan – T34 100m
Toby Gold – T33 100m
Kadeena Cox – T38 100m
Gemma Prescott – F32 club throw
Sabrina Fortune – F20 shot put
Andrew Small – T33 100m