US star Tatyana McFadden became the first Para athlete to win four gold medals at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 on Wednesday (19 July), dominating the track yet again.
The 28-year-old added the 800m T54 title to her golds in the 200m, 400m and 1,500m at the London Stadium – and she made it look easy, despite not being able to race for much of the season.
McFadden (1:47.82) has suffered blood clots in her legs in 2017 and has undergone a number of operations but if it has hampered her racing in any way, it was hard to tell.
The American went out hard on the gun and the field quickly stretched out behind her - with one lap to go she had a clear lead; coming round the final bend she was well out in front but the race was on for silver and bronze. Swiss racer Manuela Schaer (1:49.47) pushed hard to claim silver with the USA’s Amanda McGrory (1:49.64) in third.
“I am so proud of myself, it’s been a long journey this year and this is such a great way to finish these World Championships,” said McFadden, who now has an incredible 15 world titles to her name.
“Having a good start is such an advantage. I was a little nervous as I didn’t know if I could trust my body to be able to do it.
“I had surgery three months ago and had to focus on my recovery. I would go to the track but just sit there crying as I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back. All I wanted to do was to make it back to London because I love it here.”
Holt, Svechnikov smash records
Australia’s Isis Holt may have been the youngest in the final of the women’s 100m T35 but she was certainly the fastest, smashing the world record with a time of 13.43.
Holt, 16, showed great composure as she chased down China’s Paralympic champion Xia Zhou to defend the title she won two years ago, knocking 0.14 seconds off the world record she set in April 2016.
“It’s incredible coming here and running like that. To come out in front of such a crowd and run that fast is an amazing feeling. Something I’ve worked on since Rio is to stay calm and concentrate on my own race. I’ve been able to do that and it’s made me stronger this year,” said Holt, who won silver behind Zhou at Rio 2016.
“I’m privileged to be here and to be able to do stuff like this which people my age wouldn’t normally be able to do.”
Another talented teenager making their mark at London 2017 is Uzbekistan’s Paralympic champion Aleksandr Svechnikov. The 19-year-old has already broken the javelin F13 world record this year and he was at it again, this time throwing a massive 71.01m in the fifth round – 1.01m further than his previous best.
“I have been preparing for this competition for a very long time. The most important thing is I did not injure myself so I was able to improve my personal maximum,” said Svechnikov.
Svechnikov has a sporting pedigree – he is coached by his mother Elena, and his sister Anastasiya competed at the 2008 Olympic Games, and he was quick to highlight their support.
“The key to this result was evidently my coach who is my mother and also my whole family, my sister and my brother who are the top-class athletes and my biggest inspiration, the whole team and the nation of Uzbekistan. I also have to say thank you to all the fans in the stadium and the people who support me,” he added.
World's fastest Paralympian wins gold
Cuba’s Omara Durand (11.52) is the world’s fastest female Paralympian and there was no stopping the 25-year-old visually impaired sprinter as she won the 100m T12 – her sixth world title from three championships.
Algeria’s Baka brothers took the top two spots in the men’s 1,500m T13 with Paralympic champion Abdellatif (3:52.82) setting a new championship record to win gold ahead of his identical twin Fouad (3:53.07). Australia’s Jaryd Clifford (3:53.31) came though strongly to secure bronze with an Oceania record.
China’s Hongzhuan Zhou (55.22) pushed hard down the home straight to win the women’s 400m T53 with a new championship record, while in the men’s 400m T47 Austria claimed their first gold medal of the championships. Gunther Matzinger (49.35) reclaimed the title he last won in 2013 with a terrific sprint to the line.
“It was a remarkable race. I was injured for a long time coming into these championships and I didn’t know how good I was going to be, so to take a gold medal is just amazing,” said the former Paralympic champion. “I won gold here five years ago and to run here again and win gold again is unbelievable.”
There was a nail-biting finish to the women’s 400m T13 as Ukrainian Leilia Adzhametova (56.58) reeled in Morocco’s Sanaa Benhama down the home straight to win her third title in London. Adzhametova’s teammate, double Paralympic champion Ihor Tsvietov (25.52), stormed to gold in the men’s 200m T35.
Double delight for Tlili
There was no surprise as Raoua Tlili won the women’s shot put F41. The 27-year-old already has a hat-trick of Paralympic and world shot put titles to her name and she added two more gold medals in London, winning the discus F41 as well. Tlili’s opening effort of 10.04m proved to be her best – and a new championship record.
“When I saw my opponents, I was sure I was going to win the gold medal,” said Tlili. “We have very good support from the government in my country; our federation is very strong so we bring medals from major events. But the most important person who supported me in my career was my father. He passed away only six months before the Rio Games so I dedicated the two golds to him.”
China added two more gold medals to their tally as Paralympic champion Xiaoyan Wen (4.97m) set a new championship record in the women’s long jump T37 and Hao Wang (7.18m) leapt to gold in the men’s long jump T47.
Latvia’s Dmitrijs Silovs (55.89m) improved on his silver medal from Doha 2015 with gold in London, setting a new championship record as he finished more than seven metres 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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