Berlin 2018: Emotional end for Heinrich PopowParalympic legend seals silver in final competition 21 Aug 2018
World champion Daniel Wagner denied Germany’s Heinrich Popow a golden farewell on day two of competition at the Berlin 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships. The Dane successfully defended his European title with a win in the men’s long jump T63, as Popow ended his athletics career with silver.
“It’s been a very busy year for me so being able to just stand here at the championships is great. And being able to compete against Popow in his last competition in his career is special,” said Wagner, who leapt a new personal best of 6.72m, celebrating afterwards with his trademark backflip in front of the crowds.
“I tasted blood, I wanted to go for the world record, but I wanted it too much. My goal has always been jumping over seven metres so that’s something I’m going to chase after.”
For Popow, Berlin 2018 provided a highly emotional end to his career.
“In between the competition I tried to focus, I tried to do it with too much power. I tried to run through a wall, but it doesn’t work. I was emotional, trying to find the concentration and the focus; then I gave that up,” said the 35-year-old, who bowed out with a best of 6.24m and a European silver medal.
“Right now it’s tough to see all those competitors. I realise that I will miss them. I’m happy about my career – I enjoyed it the whole time, and I will miss it.”
Another world champion - Diana Dadzite of Latvia - got her European campaign off to a terrific start, finishing more than four metres clear of the field in the discus F55 – but she still wants more.
“I’m not happy with the competition today, in training I was so much better. I want to throw even further next year,” said the 32-year-old threw a best of 22.46m – with the javelin and shot put still to come.
It was a profitable evening of track and field for Ireland, with three gold medals going their way.
Greta Streimikyte (4:48.54) comfortably won the women’s 1,500m T13; Orla Barry (28.76m) was the clear winner in the women’s discus F57 and Jason Smyth continued his domination of the men’s T13 sprints with a win over 200m.
“I’m very happy, I haven’t actually won the Europeans in a few years so it’s great to come back out and take the title I once had,” said the multiple Paralympic and world champion, who did not compete at Grosseto 2016. “Hopefully I can come back out and do something similar in the 100m.”
Great Britain also claimed a hat trick of gold medals.
Maria Lyle got off to a terrific start in the women’s 100m T35 and held on strongly to claim her third consecutive European title, with the 200m to come on Sunday (26 August). Teammate Richard Whitehead (24.22) won the 200m T61 later on in the evening,
There was gold too for Sabrina Fortune (13.30m) in the women’s shot put F20, and the 21-year-old, who finished a disappointing sixth at last year’s World Championships, was suitably delighted.
“Last night I had a dream I would win gold. I’m so glad it came true,” said Fortune, who added a first European title to her bronze from Rio 2016.
“It was really nice to share the moment with my family who are out here, and I could see them all waving at the end. I learnt that no matter how many times you fall down, you can get back up. There is always a chance to better yourself and you can learn from coming sixth to come first.”
Finland’s Leo Pekka Tahti (24.74) looked in terrific form as he saw off defending champion Richard Chiassaro as well as former world champion Kenny van Weeghel to win the men’s 200m T54 by a considerable margin.
“It was a big surprise for me because the margin was so high and I didn’t expect that. I knew I was in good shape but this was a big surprise for me. I won the last European 200m in 2005 and now I win again after so many years,” said Pekka Tahti, who set a new championship record.
Belgium’s defending champion Peter Genyn showed that he was none the worse after dislocating his hip last month, powering home ahead of great rival Toni Piispanen to win the 100m T51.
“I know we missed a few very important trainings, but I had a perfect season, I was in great shape when I had the operation. I came in hoping for silver and I won gold, so I’m very pleased.”
There was a championship record for Frenchman Pierre Fairbank (26.92) who was quickly up on his opposition in the men’s 200m T53 before powering home ahead of his teammate Nicolas Brignone (27.65).
Turkey clinched two golds on the track through Kurt Hamide (31.59) in the women’s 200m T53 and Zubeyde Supurgeci (30.96) in T54 equivalent.
Both athletes have been in terrific form this season both set new championship records in Berlin.
Poland’s Michal Kotkowski (53.31) won the men’s 400m T37, Germany’s Katrin Mueller-Rottgardt (12.78) took gold in the women’s 100m T12 and Greece’s Athanasios Ghavelas (11.27) won the men’s 100m T12.
Back to the field, and there were wins for Italy’s Giuseppe Campoccio (11.17m) in the men’s shot put F33; Ukraine’s Roman Danyliuk (15.34m) in the shot put F12 and Austria’s Natalija Eder (34.77m) in the women’s javelin F13. Sweden’s Viktoria Karlsson (4.77m) claimed her third consecutive European title in the women’s long jump T11, finishing just four centimetres ahead of Spain’s Meritxell Playa Faus (4.73m).
Frenchman Tony Falelavaki (T44) denied Iceland’s Helgi Sveinsson his third consecutive European title, winning the javelin F64 with a season’s best 54.76m.
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