Dan Greaves (coach: John Godina) won the Britain’s first gold medal of the IPC Athletics European Championships in the F44/46 discus, with three further medals won on the morning of day two.
Greaves retained the European title that he won in Swansea two years ago and the victory was an encouraging one for the Loughborough-based athlete who returned to medal winning ways.
The 2004 Paralympic champion said: “It was a great European Championships in Swansea two years ago and I broke the European record – we haven’t really peaked for this one and I’m in quite a heavy faze so it is fantastic for me to be on top of that podium again, hearing that national anthem and winning gold for GB. Hopefully there will be a lot more golds to come from the team during the week and we can push on to beat Swansea’s total.
“It is a major championship and I took this really seriously. We wanted to win and come back with a gold. Obviously Rio is in all our minds but it a great stepping stone to see where we are and we can make a few judgement calls leading up to Rio. This is my fifth title and I’m so over the moon to walk away with gold. It was a tough competition – one of the guys came into it with a seasons best of 59m so I knew I would have to be on top form. It’s all about consistency at the moment and I think I am doing that.”
Greaves added: “I spent six and half weeks out in Arizona consistently throwing 58m plus in competition and even bigger distances in training. We Facetime everyday (with my coach), it’s a shame there was no Wifi here today or I would have got him on the Ipad. The connectivity between myself and John (Godina) and Altis is brilliant and working forwards we will make some strides going towards Rio.”
There was further medal success in the men’s T34 400m final with compatriots Isaac Towers (Peter Wyman) and Ben Rowlings (Job King) taking the silver and bronze medals respectively. The pair were beaten to gold by multiple-medallist Henry Manni of Finland but with times of 54.22 and 54.41 respectively, it was quite a battle between the Brits.
Towers said after his silver medal triumph: “It is a good way to start the championships. I am more concentrating on the 800m which is an event for Rio but it’s good to get a feel for the track and win a medal.
“It is a little bit windy today which obviously doesn’t help but it is good to know that I can perform when it matters and in changing conditions. I’m looking forward to Rio now so I’m taking every race as it comes. I’ve got the 100m next which isn’t my strongest event but it another opportunity to get some good track time.”
Rowlings, who won bronze in the 800m two years ago added: “It is a little bit frustrating, I know I am quicker than that, I showed that last year. It has been a bit of a struggle to find some form. I’m not here to peak now; it is all about working towards Rio. It is a good test and shows I have the speed for the 800m.
“I’m gutted that Isaac (Towers) beat me because we are always really close but I suppose it’s 1-0 to him this championships. I can’t be too disappointed with a medal; I just wish it was a different colour.”
There was further silver medal success for Carly Tait (Rick Hoskins) in the T34 400m final who narrowly missed out on gold by 0.04 seconds. However, she added to her silver from the 100m yesterday to extend her collection of European medals.
Tait commented: “I’m really pleased to get a silver medal. I tried my absolute hardest and honestly thought I had it but just missed out by a fraction (by 0.04 seconds). The Russian gave a really good race – I was expecting to go passed her but I could not match her speed at the end. I wasn’t sure if I had got it on the line. I was looking around to try and see if anyone was cheering for me – I was asking ‘have I got it?”
There were mixed fortunes in the T20 800m semi-finals for the British duo. Steve Morris (James Thie) qualified after a fourth place finish in a quicker semi-final. Unfortunately, James Hamilton (Mark Kirk) for a second time was involved in a tangle which saw him fall after 300m. He valiantly kept running despite the pain but sadly missed out on a final spot.
Action continues at 15:00 UK Time with 16 British athletes competing. Watch full coverage here: https://www.paralympic.org/grosseto-2016
British Athletics medal tally at the IPC Athletics European Championships:
Dan Greaves – F44-46 Discus
Carly Tait – T34 100m and 400m
Isaac Towers – T34 400m
Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T42/44 High Jump
Ben Rowlings – T34 400m