The British team won their first medal on the opening morning of the IPC Athletics European Championships with two athletes recording championship records in their semi-finals.
The first silverware of the championships came from Carly Tait (coach: Rick Hoskins) who won silver in the T34 100m. This was also a first European medal on her GB debut, crossing the line in 20.46 (-0.7).
Tait spoke afterwards: “I’m disappointed – that’s not the best time for me. I felt confident lining up but I’m not entirely sure where things went wrong.
“I’ve got the 400m tomorrow so I’ve got to look forward to that one. That should be a good one for me. I wanted to do better in the 100m but I’ll turn my focus to that race and look to improve.”
Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine) blasted through to the T42 100m finals with a championship record of 12.46 (-1.5). In the first heat Denmark’s Daniel Jorgensen had set a new mark but the Paralympic and world 200m champion made sure that didn’t last too long.
Whitehead said: “It’s about putting a marker out there. I saw Jorgensen set a championship record in the heat before so I just wanted to nip it a little bit. 12.46 – can’t grumble with that. It’s going to be a great final. I’m not a 200m runner, and I’m world champion in that, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
“When you are racing against the likes of Dave Henson, it shows we have a great contingent within the British team. The guy is the future of British athletics in the T42 class, at the moment I’m still doing what I’m doing.
“I’ve had a great winter with Keith (Antoine – coach) – thanks to British Athletics for supporting that and our training camp out to Stellenbosch. Thanks to continued support of the National Lottery and that is really important to help us perform on this stage. Thanks to all those watching the live stream at home, your support is much appreciated.”
He will be joined in the final by Invictus Games champion David Henson (Roger Keller) who recorded a personal best to reach his target of making the 100m final. Henson shaved 0.3 seconds off his previous best clocking 13.29 (-0.1).
He added: “I’m still learning the 100m but it’s a PB – I’ve taken 0.3 seconds off my previous best so I can’t complain. I feel like there is a bit more to come yet – hopefully I will come through as one of the two fastest qualifiers to get to the final – that was the target.”
Making her GB international debut in the F34 shot put, Vanessa Daobry (Alison O’Riordan) impressed to claim fourth place. She threw her furthest mark of 6.46m in the first round and despite her best efforts, she finished narrowly outside the podium places. However, she was motivated to return in her British vest and make the rostrum in the future.
Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes) finished fifth in a highly competitive F40/41 shot put competition. He managed a best of 10.50m in the fifth round in an event which saw the world record broken by Poland’s Bartosz Tyszkowski, setting a mark of 13.64m.
In the T54 200m semi-finals, there was a championship record for Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) who continued his sensational 2016 which has seen him become a world leader in the 800m. In the shorter sprint, the Harlow athlete was equally in good form setting a mark of 25.30. He will be joined by Nathan Maguire (Hoskins), making his first appearance in the British vest, who went through as a fastest qualifier after a time of 26.54 for fourth in the second semi-final.
Action starts again at 3pm UK time live on the IPC website: https://www.paralympic.org/grosseto-2016
British Athletics medal tally at the IPC Athletics European Championships:
Carly Tait – T34 100m