Huge American show of strength at national trials

130 athletes vying for places on national team for World Championships in Lyon, France, put up world-class performances over the weekend. 18 Jun 2013
Tatyana McFadden - London 2012

Tatyana McFadden celebrates the gold in the women's 800m T54 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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"I am not going to lie, I was upset when I read that Alan broke the record."

US Paralympians David Prince and Tatyana McFadden were among a host of American athletes who shone on the track at the US Paralympic Track and Field National Championships in San Antonio, Texas last weekend (14 – 16 June).

With places on the US team for next month’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon up for grabs, more than 130 athletes took to the track focussed on success.

Prince, who won 400m T44 bronze at the Paralympic Games in London last year, set two new world records as he took gold in the 200 and 400m. The 29-year-old clocked 22.47seconds in the 200m T44 to take the title ahead of Jarryd Wallace and Jerome Singleton, and knock 0.02 seconds off the world record previously held by South Africa’s Arnu Fourie.

The race had originally been scheduled for Friday evening, but stormy weather meant a delay until the following day.

"Lightning won't be able to catch me," Prince joked Friday when the meet was postponed as the heavens opened.

And the Florida-based athlete continued his terrific form in the 400m T43/44, clocking a much-anticipated sub-50 seconds as he bettered the world record mark he set in London last year with a winning time of 49.87 seconds.

"I just went out and ran really hard," Prince said. "That is what my coach told me to do so that is what I did. Training has kind of helped with giving me a good understanding of pace and how I need to run the cycle of the race. Having a good racing plan, going out and having a good race that is what my coach wanted me to do and that is what I did."

Blake Leeper picked up silver behind Prince, with Trenten Merrill taking the bronze. Leeper, who won 200m bronze in London last year, also had his moment of glory as he won the men's 200m T43 title with a time of 23.09seconds, well clear of Joshua Kennison in second. The pair also finished first and second in the 100m T43 with Leeper clocking 11.39seconds.

The victories provided some comfort to the 23-year-old who woke up on Saturday to find his world record in the men's 100m T43, which he shared with South African Oscar Pistorius, broken by Brazil's Alan Oliveira at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin, Germany. Oliveira ran 10.77 seconds, 0.14 seconds faster than the previous T43 mark.

"I am not going to lie, I was upset when I read that Alan broke the record" said Leeper, who learned of the defeat on Twitter. "It took me years to tie Oscar's record, which stood for a few years. I took pride in the world record. To be able to represent my country as a world record holder, it was an honour.”

But the news from Germany didn’t faze the American: “It lights a fire under me. I am fired up to face Alan in Lyon because he is a great competitor,” he added.

Defending world champion Jerome Singleton won the highly anticipated men's 100m T44 in 11.28 seconds, with Jarryd Wallace securing second place. There was disappointment for Paralympic 100m T44 silver medallist Richard Browne, however. The 21-year-old had gone in to the race as favourite after equalling the world record on 8 June when he clocked 10.85 seconds at an unsanctioned meet, but he aggravated a leg injury in Texas – having just got off crutches two weeks ago - and trailed in last.

Multiple World and Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden dominated all six of the events she raced in, with victory in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m T54 and the 1,500m and 5,000m T53/54. Her younger sister Hannah was never far behind though, finishing second behind Tatyana in the 100m, 200m and 800m.

"My mom likes to say it's her cooking that makes us do well," Tatyana smiled.

Three-time London 2012 medallist Shirley Reilly clocked 2:01.20 to win the women's 800m T53 ahead of Chelsea McClammer, with the pair finishing first and second again over 400m.

There was double gold too for Katie Walker, with victories in the 100m T43/44/45/46, and 200m T44-46/35-37. April Holmes, Paralympic champion in 2008, clinched 100m silver and 200m bronze.

Four-time London 2012 gold medallist Raymond Martin also laid down his marker ahead of the World Championships with four national titles. The 19-year-old won the men's 1,500m T51/52 with a time of 4:14.60, adding gold in the men's 400m T34/51/52, 200m and 100m T33/34/51/52. But Austin Pruitt upset Martin’s plans for a clean sweep of gold medals, taking the men’s 800m T34/51/52 title in 1:59.67 minutes.

In the field events, world record holder Jeremy Campbell won the men's discus F44 with a throw of 61.46m, almost 15 metres further than the 46.80m thrown by Brazilian Marco Lima Borges, who finished second. Campbell's world record is 63.46m.

Samuel Craven won the men's discus (F32/33/34) as well as the shot put (F32-34/52/53), where he got the better of two-time U.S. Paralympian Scot Severn (F53) with a winning throw of 9.20m. In the women’s event, Cassie Mitchell (F52) finished second behind Catherin Callahan, but set a new world record for her classification, throwing 6.14m.

"I have been very close to a world record in my last few meets, like within centimetres," Mitchell said. "I knew it was possible to set a world record here but with my other meets, I went in thinking about setting the world record and that didn't go well. For this meet, I decided I wasn't going to come in for the world record. I was coming here to let loose and throw it. Whatever happened, so be it."

Elexis Gillette, a three-time Paralympic Games silver medallist, won the men's triple jump F11/12 and long jump titles, whilst Dennis Ogbe, who represented Nigeria at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games before competing for the US in 2012, won the men's shot put F56/57/58 and the discus F57/58.

The U.S. team due to compete at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon in July will be named by June 18.