British duo Kare Adenegan and Sophie Hahn were in world record-breaking form at the Muller Anniversary Games at the London Olympic Stadium on Sunday (22 July). Racing in the 100m T34, 17-year-old Adenegan surprised even herself as she knocked more than three tenths of a second off Paralympic and world champion Hannah Cockroft’s previous best, crossing the line in 16.80 seconds.
“I didn’t expect it at all. I was so pleased with it I was completely speechless at the end – I was just so surprised I thought, am I actually dreaming,” said Adenegan, who was inspired to take up Para athletics after watching the London 2012 Games on television, where Cockroft won gold.
“I’d set a new personal best about a month ago so I knew I was capable of something big, but I did not think I was going to go sub-17 seconds at all.”
Adenegan won 100m T34 silver behind Cockroft at both the Rio 2016 Games and London 2017 World Championships; she also has six major bronze medals to her name.
But now with the 2018 European Championships less than one month away, she has set up a final in Berlin where she has a real chance for gold. It’s a prospect she remains calm about, adding:
“I just need to focus on myself and make sure my training goes well, then whatever happens I’ll be pleased.”
‘Best thing that could happen’
For Cockroft, who finished second in 17.55 seconds, the rare defeat and loss of her world record was a reminder to the public as much as to herself that she is not invincible.
“I didn’t know that 17 seconds was possible to break, I’ve been trying for five years now and I’ve not got it. Now that someone else has got it maybe it’s what I need,” said Cockroft, who suffered her first defeat in seven years to Adenegan back in 2015, when her young rival beat her over 400m.
“For so long I’ve been the trend setter and the person to beat and now there’s someone I can beat, so it’s the best thing that could have happened.”
Hahn in a hurry
There was no stopping world and Paralympic champion Hahn in the next race out on the track as she smashed the 200m T38 world record she set in the same venue as last year’s World Championships, finishing well ahead of the field with a blistering 25.93 – her first time under the 26 second mark.
“It was a complete shock, I didn’t realise how quick I could go, I did not expect to do that,” said the 21-year-old.
“I was watching Kare break the world record and that gave me a lot of motivation. My main focus this year has been in the gym, just getting stronger and stronger and it’s obviously paid off so I’m really happy.”
Hahn won double sprint gold at London 2017 and now she’s even more determined to repeat that success at the European Championships.
“I’d love to repeat last year and become the double 100m and 200m European champion, so that’s the plan. I’ll just keep training hard.”
Double Paralympic champion Libby Clegg of Great Britain marked her return from injury with a win in the 200m T11, clocking 25.29 seconds with guide Tom Somers who joined up with Clegg just two weeks earlier after regular guide Chris Clarke suffered an injury.
“I’m really happy to be back competing on an international stage,” said the 28-year-old, who missed London 2017 because of injury.
“Last year was a really tough year for me – Chris’s Achilles went last year and I struggled with mental health to get back. For me, it’s just been a great confidence booster.
“It’s been great to have a feel for my competitors because I’ve been out the game for two years, so it’s great to get back in the mix and know that I’m still going to be pretty dominant. I feel really confident going in to the Europeans – it’s going to be a great experience.”
Just one centimetre separated London 2017 champion Stef Reid and France's Paralympic champion Marie-Amelie le Fur in the women’s long jump T44/47/64.
It was Briton Reid who came out on top with a season’s best 5.55m, setting up a thrilling competition at the European Championships for the pair who first competed together in 2006.
“That was exactly what I needed ahead of Berlin,” said Reid. “I think I can definitely be in the mix. I go in believing I can win, but is it sewn up? Not at all. Marlene (van Gansewinkel) is jumping well, Marie-Amelie is jumping well – I think we are going to have a great competition.”
There was a win too for young South African Ntando Mahlangu, who got the better of his experienced rival Richard Whitehead in the 200m T61.
The 16-year-old, who won Paralympic and world silver behind Whitehead, finished strongly in 23.56 seconds, with the Briton second in a season’s best 23.72.