McFadden, Forber-Pratt lead Team USA in Christchurch

25 Jan 2011

The women led the way for Team USA on Tuesday as Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.) won double gold in the 200m and 800m (T54) while Anjali Forber-Pratt (Natick, Mass.) claimed gold in the 200m (T53) on day four of the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships.

McFadden got things started in the 800m, setting a new Championship record of 1:51.10 on her way to victory. She then came back in the afternoon session and dominated the 200m, racing to gold with a time of 29.33.

“I had to peak at just the right time and things are coming together,” said McFadden. “I’m very happy, excited and honored to win gold. I get a little time to enjoy the wins, and then I have to refocus for my three remaining events.”

Next up was Forber-Pratt whose 200m victory marked her first ever world championships gold, while setting a new Championship record with a time of 29.83. Forber-Pratt has been focusing on the 200m as her signature event and her gold medal-winning performance had her grinning from ear-to-ear as she came off the track at QEII Park.

“This is a dream come true, it’s even better than I imagined it would be,” said Forber-Pratt. “We finished into a really strong headwind and I just had to block that out and give the race everything I had.”

Team USA’s Jessica Galli (Hillsborough, N.J.) narrowly missed the podium in this same event, finishing fourth in 31.13.

The American men were not shut out on day four thanks to a bronze medal in the long jump (F44) from Chief Petty Officer Casey Tibbs (Augusta, Ga.). Tibbs landed a jump of 6.19 meters to secure a spot on the medal stand.

“Being a chief in the U.S. Navy and competing for Team USA, I wear a uniform all the time,” said Tibbs. “We have a motto that says, ‘A chief always has to be ready,’ and given that I was deployed twice last year and didn’t have as much preparation as I would have liked, I knew I still had to be ready to compete. Coming away from world championships with a bronze medal is a definite win.”

The excitement is building for the most talked about event here in Christchurch as preliminary rounds of the men’s 100m (T44) were held on Tuesday. All three U.S. athletes advanced to the final with Jerome Singleton (Irmo, S.C.) having the fastest qualifying time among the Americans, and second fastest time overall, at 11.35. Singleton was edged out by nemesis Oscar Pistorius (RSA), who was the fastest qualifier at 11.33.

“The only goal I had today was to qualify for the final,” said Singleton. “I went hard for the first 30 meters, and then cruised to the finish. I’m feeling good and really looking forward to racing in the final.”

Blake Leeper (Church Hill, Tenn.) and Jim Bob Bizzell (Odessa, Texas) also advanced to the medal round with times of 11.63 and 11.71, respectively.

The upset of the day came in the women’s 200m (T44) as defending world champion April Holmes (Chula Vista, Calif.) lost her title and finished out of the medals in fifth place with a time of 29.56.

“I gave everything I had to give,” said Holmes. “I was happy I was able to finish given that I’m still coming back from a hip injury. My spirits felt great, my body just felt weak.”

Holmes still has a chance at gold in the 100m, which will be held on Wednesday.

Other notable performances on day four included 15-year-old Sydney Bolen (Cordova, Tenn.) setting an Americas record in the women’s 100m (T35) with a time of 19.65, 16-year-old Austin Pruitt (Spokane, Wash.) grabbing fourth place in the men’s 100m (T34) in 18.12 and Jordan Bird (Tucson, Ariz.) advancing to the finals of both the 200m and 1,500m (T54).

Team USA has tallied 17 medals so far and is fourth overall in total medals won. China leads all countries with 34 medals.