A phenomenal six world records fell at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain, on Saturday (15 July) and it was the host nation who raised the roof as home favourites Sophie Hahn, Sammie Kinghorn and Hollie Arnold all rewrote the history books.
Five gold medals went Great Britain’s way on the second day of competition as Richard Whitehead also clinched gold, adding to Stef Reid’s long jump T44 success earlier in the day.
First up in the evening session was Hollie Arnold, who added 1cm on to her world record as she completed a hat-trick of world titles, having won in 2013 and 2015. The Paralympic champion threw 43.02m, and was suitably delighted.
“That was a fantastic series for me. I went out there to smash it and I did,” said Arnold. “It was great to get the world record. I knew that fourth throw was close but I wasn’t sure if I’d got it. The support of the crowd was absolutely amazing.”
Not to be outdone, fellow Briton Sophie Hahn came out on the track and annihilated the previous mark in the women’s 200m T38. Focused on her outside lane from the gun, the 100m T38 Paralympic champion proved too good for her rivals as she stopped the clock at 26.11.
Watch Hahn win gold
Great Britain’s third world record of the night came courtesy of Sammie Kinghorn (28.61) in the women’s 200m T53. The Scot has been in record-breaking form already this year and proved unstoppable once again, knocking 0.06 seconds of her previous best.
“Gold. I can’t believe it. That crowd was incredible, I was so scared on the start line and as soon as they called my name I thought I can soak this up a little bit,” said the 21-year-old afterwards.
There were world records too for Brazilian Petrucio Ferreira, Malaysian Muhammad Zolkefli and the USA’s Cassie Mitchell.
Ferreira, who missed the 2015 World Championships through injury, was quickly out the blocks in the men’s 100m T47 with teammate Yohansson Nascimento hot on his heels. But the Paralympic champion couldn’t be caught as he crossed the line in 10.53 – 0.04 seconds faster than the time he clocked to win gold at Rio 2016.
"I just went out and did what I knew I could do,” said Ferreira. “This medal is just as important as my Paralympic gold because I haven't won one of these before.”
Zolkefli threw a massive 17.29m in the first round of the men’s shot put F20 to add the world title to his Rio 2016 gold, adding 45cm on to his own world record.
“I woke up this morning and thought I could break the world record. I always dream that I will do it and tonight I did. World record, Paralympic champion and now world champion – that sounds good,” said Zolkefli.
Mitchell (F51) added discus F52 gold and a new world record to her club throw silver from 24 hours earlier. She now holds world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m T51 and shot put F51. The 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016, struck gold with her penultimate effort of 13.23m – 14cm further than the previous best.
“I have set many world records; I think this is maybe my seventh. But I have never had a world record and the world title at the same time so it is very exciting. It has been a lot in this past two years with the cancer and I am still doing chemo which makes training hard but I am thankful to God and my family and my entire team – they were very supportive during the entire process,” said Mitchell.
Elsewhere in the field there were wins for China’s defending champion Jianwen Hu (6.80m) in the men’s long jump T38; Tunisia’s Maroua Ibrahmi (5.86m) added shot put F32 gold to her club throw silver from day one and Algeria’s Paralympic champion Nassima Saifi (34.05m) safely defended her world title in the discus F57.
A number of sprint medals were decided too, with Richard Whitehead (23.26) storming home in championship record time to win the men’s 200m T42 – his fourth world title.
Walid Ktila (15.00) is another athlete who has been at the forefront of his class in recent years and the Tunisian was too strong for his rivals yet again as he took 100m T34 gold.
The men’s 100m T33 went to form as Kuwaiti Ahmad Almutairi (17.00) powered home after a slow start to win his second consecutive world title with a new championship record.
There was gold too for defending champion David Brown (11.20) in the men’s 100m T11. The American looked in complete control as he sped home ahead of Namibia’s Ananias Shikongo (11.20).
Gold also went the USA’s way as Paralympic champion Deja Young (25.10) added the 200m T47 world title to her collection. Tatyana McFadden (28.08) secured a phenomenal 12th world title as she led home the first sweep of the Championships for the USA. Cheri Madsen (28.89) and Tatyana’s sister Hannah (29.49) took silver and bronze
Ukrainian Natalia Kobzar (27.62) ran a strong second 100m in the women’s 200m T37 to claim her first world title at just 17-years-old.
In the day’s longer races, Uganda’s Paralympic silver medallist David Emong (3:58.36) saw off defending champion Samir Nouioua (3:58.78) of Algeria and European silver medallist Hristiyan Stoyanov (3:58.94) in a terrific sprint finish at the end of the men’s 1,500m T46.
“I was expecting to win because I have been training at altitude with Uganda’s champions Moses Kipsiro and Stephen Kiprotich. Last year I wasn’t ready to win. I lacked behind at the end, but this time I was ready and in the last 100m I knew it was mine,” said Emong.
Kenya’s Paralympic champion Samwel Kimani (15:41.54) added the 5,000m T11 title to his Rio 2016 gold after dominating the race from start to finish - the 37-year-old finished more than 50m clear of his rivals.
The World Para Athletics Championships will run through to 23 July. More than 1,150 athletes from 90 countries are competing in 202 medal events.
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