Great Britain’s double Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock stole the show once again as he won 100m T44 gold on Sunday (16 July), the third day of competition at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain.
The 24-year-old, who missed the 2015 World Championships due to injury, had earlier set a new European record in the heats, clocking 10.64 and expectations were running high for another gold medal for the host nation.
True to form the Lyon 2013 champion didn’t disappoint as he picked up Great Britain’s eighth gold medal of London 2017 – although he had to power past the USA’s Jarryd Wallace first as the American got away fastest at the gun.
The final 50m was all about the Briton however as he stormed to the line in 10.75 seconds. Germany’s T43 sprinter Johannes Floors (10.89) came through in the final 10 metres to take silver while Wallace (10.95) took bronze.
“Before here, I had some great sessions out in Paris. That showed I was in great form. I ran what was the equivalent of a 10.5 “high” so we knew that it was possible but until you see the time you never know,” said Peacock, who had eased up over the line in the heat to finish just 0.03 seconds outside Richard Browne’s world record.
“My body hasn’t been to that place this year and I was aiming for around 10.70 in the heat and to look and see where Johannes was with that. That was a personal best for me and I guess I know that I was in good form but when it comes to the final I don’t care about times.”
Ireland’s Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympian on the planet, was up next and he didn’t disappoint either, storming to his sixth world title in 10.63.
“Where does this rank among all my titles? It’s going to take a bit of time to sink in before I enjoy it. The memories of the Paralympics here are still strong but as a World Championships this is by far the best. I hope this sets the standard for the future,” said Smyth.
There was double delight for Ireland as Smyth’s roommate Michael McKillop then raced to gold in the men’s 800m T38 – his fifth world title over two laps. The 27-year-old kicked with 250m to go and proved too good for his rivals once again.
The men’s 1,500m T54 lived up to expectations too in a thrilling race which saw Thailand’s defending champion Rawat Tana take to the front with one lap remaining. Swiss star Marcel Hug kept his cool however and made his move with 250m to go; Tunisia’s Yassine Gharbi tried to catch him but the seven-time world champion held his form to the line, finishing in 3:04.33.
"It was a really tough race because it was difficult to find a good position. In the end I was pretty lucky to make it, everything moved so fast,” said Hug.
"This has been a really good day for Switzerland with Roger Federer winning at Wimbledon and also Martina Hingis winning in the doubles. I saw the Federer match and big congratulations to Roger. His title was just amazing and he is a great inspiration."
Victory for Paralympic silver medallist Irmgard Bensusan never looked in doubt as the German raced round the track in the women’s 400m T44 to claim her first world title in 1:02.33.
There was no surprise either as Italy’s Paralympic and world champion Martina Caironi took gold in the 100m T42 with a season’s best 14.65 – just 0.04 seconds outside her own world record.
Canada’s Brent Lakatos won gold in the men’s 200m T53 after a terrific race to the line against Thailand’s Pongsakorn Paeyo. Lakatos quickly pushed in to the lead round the bend, but as the finish line approached Paeyo was making up ground – fast.
The pair were awarded the same time – a championship record 25.29 – but on camera it was Lakatos who just got there first.
“"It doesn't get much closer than that. I didn't know that I had won until I looked up at the screen,” said the seven-time world champion.
The women’s 200m T13 was won by Ukraine’s Leilia Adzhametova with a new European record of 24.63, while Australian teenager Isis Holt held off China’s Paralympic champion Xia Zhou in the 200m T35 to retain the title she won two years ago.
The 16-year-old Paralympic silver medallist set a new championship record of 28.47 and she was clearly delighted with her performance – and the chance to turn the tables on her big rival.
“Yeah, it's a bit of revenge for me. It’s really great to come back after Rio and beat the Chinese girl. I’ve been training really hard to keep my title,” said Holt.
"Rio was an incredible experience but this is so much more exciting. It’s so incredible to be in front of so many people. It’s absolutely amazing. I still can’t believe what’s just happened. I didn’t expect to run so fast.”
US Paralympic champion Ray Martin quickly powered in to an early lead in the men’s 1,500m T52 and it was only Japan’s Tomoki Sato who could stay in touch as the pair extended their lead.
When Sato took to the front with over 400m Martin tucked himself in behind, but the defending champion didn’t have the necessary finish this time as Sato pulled clear to take the tape in a championship record 3:45.89.
Gold did go the USA’s way in the field as Roderick Townsend-Roberts won the high jump T47 with his first jump of the day, clearing 1.98m after the rest of the field had gone out. The Paralympic champion clear 2.10m before attempting to clear a new world record 2.15m, but it wasn’t to be this time.
Uzbekistan’s Doniyor Saliev led the way in the men’s long jump T12 from the opening round, leaping over seven metres in each of his six attempts. His final round effort of 7.18m sealed the win.
“My first world title – this is a very important achievement in my career as well as the Asian record. Now I am the world champion – it is hard to describe how great I am feeling,” said Saliev, who finished seventh in the triple jump at London 2012.
“This medal belongs to my nation, to parents, my coach, our president, and most of all, to me. I worked very hard for it. And also big thanks to the great fans at the stadium.”
Gold in the men’s shot put F34 went to Qatar’s world number one Abdulrahman Abdulrahman with a season’s best 11.38m; defending champion Leonardo Diaz of Cuba threw a championship record 45.47m – just two centimetres shy of the world record - to win the discus F56 and there was a championship record too for China’s Paralympic champion Xinhan Fu in the shot put F35.
“The preparation for these championships started already one year ago, after Rio,” said Fu. “I train in Beijing, in China with my coach who is my main motivation and my sports idol. My opponents were very strong so I am happy to add the world title to my medal collection – Paralympic, World and Asian golds.”
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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