After a record-breaking evening last night the Muller Anniversary Games, there were further history book moments at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as the world’s best para-athletes stepped up their preparations for the Paralympic Games in Rio.
In the first track race of the day Paralympic, world and European champion Richard Whitehead (coach: Keith Antoine) broke his own T42 200m world record with a scintillating 23.03 run. A great start set him up perfectly and his typically fast finish saw him take victory by almost a second.
Whitehead, who turned 40 earlier this week said: “It’s all about holding your pace and not over reaching in the race. However, it was key to get the winter training correct this year. I’m in heavy training at the moment so 23.03 is fine. The goal is to go to Rio and put a solid 22 in. I still wanted to lower that world record today.
“Paralympic sport is great and to have both the Para and Olympic programmes on the same stage is important. It reflects the inclusive state the sport is in at the moment. The power of sport is that it brings people together and hopefully it has done that today.”
There was also a new T11 200m world record for Libby Clegg (Joe McDonnell, guide, Chris Clarke) as the sprinter raced away to a convincing win stopping the clock at 24.44. Having been reclassified recently to a T11, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist was in imperious form with her compatriot Selina Litt (Lincoln Asquith) also ran a new personal best of 28.91 in third.
Clegg said: “I am absolutely gobsmacked at how I have performed, I can’t believe it. I have been getting better and better with every race and I’m loving every minute of it so far. I have got high hopes for Rio and am feeling really positive about it. I am aware that most of my competition are Brazilian but I think it’ll be really exciting and I can’t wait to get there.”
The first two hours of the programme all eyes were on the IPC Grand Prix Final, with Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks) breaking the meeting record with a 17.61 winning performance in the T34 100m, but she admitted she really wanted to break the world record today.
The multiple global champion and world record holder admitted: “It was good but I did mess up my start. The rest of the race technically felt great, so I am a little bit annoyed because I have been nailing it in training all week. I came into this race thinking I could smash that world record. I’ve been chasing it all season but it wasn’t to be today. I got the win, that’s the most important thing but I just can’t do that in Rio.
“It was important to come out and get the world lead. I may have been a little bit quiet so far this season but I’m pushing much better now. The aim is to get the world record in Rio, I’ve been trying since 2014 to get it.”
Sophie Hahn (McDonnell) was another athlete to show her rivals a clean pair of heals and broke the meeting record, as the 19 year old world champion won the T38 100m in 12.66, marginally outside her own world record. Compatriot Kadeena Cox (Brian Scobie) took second, breaking her personal best with an impressive 13.17 run.
Afterwards Hahn said: “I wanted to use this race as a practice, the crowd were amazing and it’s always a nice feeling to compete in front of a huge crowd. I hope the crowds get behind us in Rio also, but the main thing is that I do my very best.
“I know it’s going to be really difficult to achieve but I’m targeting two gold medals in Rio – one in the relay and in the individual 100m.”
In the men’s T54 1500m Marcel Hug of Switzerland denied the crowd the home victory they were looking for, as he edged out the in-form Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks) and six-time Paralympic champion David Weir (Jenny Archer), to win in 3:19.73.
It was a similar story in the T44 100m as American Jarryd Wallace just had the upper hand on Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock (Dan Pfaff), 10.80 to 10.87. Long jump sensation Markus Rehm broke the T44 meeting record with a 7.96m jump, a considerable margin ahead clear of his nearest rival.
In the T53 100m, Loughborough-based Canadian Brent Lakatos set a meet record of 14.31, with ‘blade babe’ Marlou van Rhijn winning the T44 100m in 12.84, just outside her own world record. Sophie Kamlish (Robert Ellchuck) broke the British record with a 13.35 run in second, with Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) third in 13.61, just outside her best.
F51 club throw world champion Jo Butterfield (Philip Peat) took victory on a sunny day inside The Stadium, breaking the meeting record with a 22.02 effort. Kylie Grimes (Peat) broke her personal best twice in her series of throws, a 19.04m effort in round three good for third place. In fourth, Gemma Prescott set an F32 British record with a 21.78m throw.
Results of the IPC Grand Prix Final can be found on the British Athletics website.