Libby Clegg (coach: Tom Crick) added global gold to her 2008 Beijing silver medal with a brilliant T12 100m victory in the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand (21 – 30 January) this evening, while Stef Reid (coach: Dan Pfaff) and Sophia Warner (coach: Jonas Dodoo) – taking the Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally to 21 overall – secured well earned bronze medals in the T44 200m and T35 100m respectively.
“This is going to give me such a lot to build on going into London,” said World 200m bronze medallist Clegg who clocked 12.73 (-0.6m/s) to defeat Slovakia’s Hanka Kolnikova, the world leader, by two one-hundredths of a second. “I was a bit down at the start but I really held it together. I didn’t tense up and I stayed relaxed.”
“The main objective was not to panic,” added guide runner Mikail Huggins. “Libby really responded when she had to and the fact that she came through to win it is down to her fight and determination.”
Reid, also earning her second trip to the podium in New Zealand after long jump bronze yesterday, finished third in the T44 200m in a season’s best time of 28.96 (-0.9m/s).
It was a return to form for the Beijing Paralympic Games bronze medallist who was disappointed with her opening performance of the competition and undoubtedly went on to exceed expectations on the track.
“I’m so excited; I won bronze in Beijing but this means so much more because I earned it in a fair race where nobody fell,” she admitted, referring to a chaotic outing over 200m in the Paralympic Games where two athletes crashed out of contention.
“My coach Dan (Dan Pfaff) told me to run it like a 100m and hold on. The 200m can be a scary race because you know the final 50m can be so tough, but I kept my form and gave it everything and I’m beyond thrilled. This has given me so much confidence.”
The race was won by world leading athlete and Beijing Paralympic Games double silver medallist Marie Amelie Lefur of France in 27.96, a new Championship Best performance.
Clocking a new lifetime best and European Record in third, Sophia Warner opened her own medal account in the T35 100m - the first time the event had been run in an IPC Athletics World Championships - with a time of 17.71 into a strong headwind (-2.4m/s)
“I’ve changed the way I train and I’ve focused so much more on strength,” said the 36-year-old who has recently switched her training base to UKA’s National Performance Centre at Lee Valley in London.
“I’ve been concentrating on getting my start right and I think I did that. I got stronger as the race went on so that bodes well for the 200m.”
Also lining up in finals this evening, 15-year-old duo Jade Jones (coach: Ian Thompson/Tanni Grey-Thompson) and Sally Brown (coach: Philip Tweedy), the World Championships T46 200m bronze medallist, once again demonstrated the junior strength in the GB & NI team when finishing fifth and sixth in the T54 200m final (32.52 (-1.1m/s)) and T46 100m final (13.22 (-0.5m/s)) respectively.
Concluding a successful evening overall, Jonnie Peacock (coach: Hayley Ginn), Mickey Bushell (coach: Fred Periac), David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer) and Tracey Hinton (coach: Darrell Maynard) all progressed through their qualifying rounds.
Peacock, another junior member of the squad, finished in second from his T44 100m heat in a lifetime best of 11.63 (+0.3m/s) to join an immense final line up including T43 World Record holder, defending champion and Paralympic Games gold medallist Oscar Pistorius and current world leader Arnu Fourie of Germany.
Bushell progressed as a fastest loser from his T53 200m heat in 27.76 (-0.6m/s) – the fourth quickest time in qualifying – while Hinton was hugely impressive in winning her T11 400m heat in 1:05.31.
Newly crowned World 800m champion Weir was equally dominant as he destroyed the field in his tactically slow T54 1500m heat taking victory by over a second and a half in 3:29.00.
His packed schedule continues in tomorrow’s final at 18.50 NZ time (05.50 UK time), while day five in Christchurch opens at 09.05 NZ time (20.05 UK time) with Mike Wood-coached pair Danny Nobbs and Rob Womack in the men’s F54/55/56 shot putt final.
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