A superb 11 medals were won on the penultimate evening session of the IPC Athletics European Championships with six British athletes winning European titles. This exceeded the record number of gold medals won by the British team in Swansea 2014, taking the gold medal tally up to 20 and the overall number of medals to 49.
Paralympic T44 100m champion Jonnie Peacock (coach: Dan Pfaff) retained his European title in style after a very close battle with Germany’s Felix Streng. He just edged it in the final 10m with a time of 11.18 (-1.2). After running 10.88 in the heats this morning, it was an encouraging return to international competition for Peacock.
He commented: “It’s a final and it’s all about winning medals. I was happy with my time (10.88) in the heats this morning and it’s good to see I can do it when it matters. I want to be even faster but it is a great feeling to be European champion again. I’m healthy, I managed to finish strongly so I have to be happy heading back into training.
“It was close and Felix (Streng) certainly pushed me hard and I just had to dig deep to get passed him. I have been working a lot on my top speed this year and in that race I have shown it works.”
On his Rio ambitions, Peacock added: “I’ll be looking to retain my title in Rio. I think there will be about five athletes who will be very close in the final, one thing for sure, it will be a fast.”
Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell) ran a superb race to win the T38 100m as the wind settled ahead of the contest. After picking up silver in the 200m earlier this week, the world champion put down a fine marker to her rivals, winning in 12.87 (-1.4). The Russian Margarita Goncharova took the honours in the 200m earlier in the week but Hahn showed her class at the distance.
Hahn said afterwards: It feels so good to be European champion and I am delighted with how I ran my race. I started really well and that is something me and my coach (Joe McDonnell) have been focusing on so I am really happy to do it here. I could hear the crowd getting louder and I couldn’t tell if they were getting closer or were passing me but I focused on what I was doing and felt strong in the last few strides.”
Kadeena Cox (Brian Scobie) was fourth in the same race, narrowly outside the medal places with a time of 13.62 and Olivia Breen (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) was sixth in 13.82.
Georgie Hermitage (Paul McGregor) claimed her hat trick of gold medals at the championships with a 13.85 (-4.1) clocking in very windy conditions in the T37 100m. After collecting silverware and world records in the 400m and 200m, the world 400m champion was in good spirits after her hard fought win.
Afterward she said: “It means the world to come here and perform well. It has been a hard few weeks mentally so it is a good and positive sign for me to deal with the pressure. I saw the time initially and was really disappointed but it was such a strong wind (-4.1) so I should be happy with that. 100m is always going to be my least favourite event but I’m glad to win the title.”
It was a second European title of the week for 16 year-old Maria Lyle (Tabo Huntley) and her fourth in her career. The talented Scottish athlete set a championship record of 29.91 (-2.2) in tricky conditions in Grosseto. After a strong bend, Lyle showed her strength in the home straight to win by a convincing margin.
A delighted Lyle said: “I’m really pleased to win both titles again. It was really windy so it was quite hard work coming down the home straight so with that in mind, I was pleased with how I ran. I wasn’t looking for PBs – I was a bit nervous coming into this so to be under 30 seconds is great. I nearly fell over the line because the wind was so strong but I’m chuffed to bits to win the gold medal.”
There was double medal joy in the T42 200m final as Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine) took gold ahead of David Henson (Roger Keller) who earned his first international medal. The wind did affect the times for the two Britons who recorded 25.09 (-2.6) and 25.89. However, there was mixed emotions from the two once they had left the arena.
Whitehead said: “It was all about winning the race today and it’s great to get another title for GB. It isn’t about the times when it is so windy. Sometimes you just have a bad race – I slipped at the start and it just was not great from me. The European 200m title was the only major title I haven’t held, I lost it in Swansea. Today was all about trying to get that back. It shows how strong I am as a competitor – I didn’t panic at all.”
Henson added: “I’m delighted to win silver, my first international medal and it is great to do it here at the European Championships. I had to work for that one but I have been doing that all season and I can tell I am really coming into my own as a racer this year so that is a positive thing. That is really helping me get over what I have been through in my lifetime so I’m chuffed to bits to win a medal.”
After winning Paralympic gold in the T53 100m at London 2012, Mickey Bushell (Jenny Archer) has faced injuries and illness, particularly in the last couple of years. However, he showed he is returning to top form as he won the European title in Italy with a championship record of 15.53 (-2.0) with training partner Mo Jomni (Archer) settling for bronze in 16.20.
A relieved Bushell commented: “It has been a long build up to this season and coming back to winning ways is always a good sign. It has been a slow road back to this point and it has been really tough over the last few months. However, we are slowly getting it together and showing that training is paying off.”
There was further silver success for Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) in the T54 100m adding to his collection for the week. The Finnish athlete Leo Pekka Tahti blew away the field but the 34 year-old was happy to take another medal crossing the line in 14.82 (-1.6).
Team captain Holly Neill (Andrew Roda) led by example to take the bronze medal in the F40/41 discus throw. With a mark of 22.24m, she catapulted herself into contention for a spot on the podium and confirmed her place on British Athletics’ ever growing list of medallists. Additionally, Mo Jomni (Archer) later returned to the track in the T53 800m, and was tactically sound to claim silver in 1:43.36, his fourth medal of the championships.
Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes) finished narrowly outside the medals in the F40/41 javelin competition. Despite a best of 35.71m, he took fourth position. In his maiden senior European final, James Arnott (Ryan Freckleton) finished fourth in the T47 100m final stopping the clock at 11.78 (-1.8).
Action continues from 15:00 UK time on the Channel 4 website: https://paralympics.channel4.com/competitions/grosseto-european-athletics-2016/news/newsid=1242147/index.html#live-ipc-athletics-european-championships
British Athletics medal tally at the IPC Athletics European Championships: (49)
Mickey Bushell – T53 100m
Jo Butterfield – F31/32/51 Club Throw
Richard Chiassaro – T54 200m
Aled Davies – F42 Shot Put and Discus
Dan Greaves – F44-46 Discus
Toby Gold – T33 100m
Sophie Hahn – T38 100m
Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m, 200m and T37/38 400m
Mo Jomni – T53 200m
Maria Lyle – T35 100m and 200m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
David Weir – T54 400m, 800m and 5000m
Richard Whitehead – T42 100m and 200m
Graeme Ballard – T36 100m
Dan Bramall – T33 100m
Richard Chiassaro – T54 100m, 400m and 800m
David Devine – T13 1500m
Sophie Hahn – T38 200m
David Henson – T42 200m
Mo Jomni – T53 400m and 800m
Gemma Prescott – F31/32/51 Club Throw
Sam Ruddock – F35 Shot Put
Carly Tait – T34 100m and 400m
Isaac Towers – T34 400m
Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T42/44 High Jump
Mickey Bushell – T53 400m
Kadeena Cox – T38 200m
Jordan Howe – T35 100m and 200m
Abbie Hunnisett – F31/32/51 Club Throw
Mo Jomni – T53 100m
Stephen Miller – F32 Club Throw
Holly Neill – F40/41 Discus
Steve Osborne – T51 100m
Ben Rowlings – T34 100m and 400m
Laura Sugar – T44 200m
Isaac Towers – T34 200m