A thrilling high jump F44 competition saw the previous world record bettered no fewer than three times before Poland’s Paralympic champion Maciej Lepiato sealed gold with a clearance of 2.17m on the fourth day of competition at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Wales.
A nail-biting competition was always on the cards, with Lepiato up against the man who took world silver behind him in Lyon last summer – Great Britain’s Jonathan Broom-Edwards - both arrived in Swansea with a season’s best of 2.10m.
The Pole looked in terrific shape from the off, clearing each height in his first attempt, but Broom-Edwards kept his composure to clear 2.12m on his third attempt, before the pair both made it over 2.15m – two centimetres higher than the world record mark Lepiato set in Lyon last summer.
But it was Paralympic champion Lepiato who raised the bar even further, clearing 2.17m as Broom-Edwards bowed out with three failures.
“I was really surprised with Jonathan’s jump,” said Lepiato. “Last year in Lyon he jumped 2.08m and this year he jumped 2.15m so I’m scared of what he might jump in Doha. But I jumped two centimetres higher than him for a world record and that’s very high. Before the competition I thought 2.14m would have given me a gold medal.”
Russia remain on course to top the medals table, winning seven more gold medals - with two world records on the track from Margarita Goncharova and her team mate Andrey Vdovin.
Goncharova sped out the blocks in the women’s 400m T38 and never looked threatened as she struck home for gold – her third of these championships – clocking 1:03.40.
Triple world champion Vdovin stormed home in the men’s 400m T37 to win his European treble. The 20-year-old had to give it his all to get past compatriot Chermen Kobesov in the home straight, but he pulled in front with less than 30m remaining, breaking his own world record set in Nottwil in May with a time of 50.91.
Women’s 400m T37 world champion Evgeniya Trushnikova improved on her silver from the IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal two years ago, sprinting to gold this time around with a season’s best 1:06.35, while her countrymen Alexey Kotlov and Egor Sharov also struck gold over one lap.
Kotlov clocked a season’s best 50.04 to win the 400m T47 and world 400m T12 champion Sharov added the European T13 title with a new personal best of 48.99 in the blustery but sunny conditions.
“I have trained very very hard for this moment and I am proud to represent Russia and win the gold medal. It was a very tough race but I am very happy,” said Kotlov.
There was a season’s best – and another field gold - for Russia’s Maria Bogacheva in the javelin F54. The 37-year-old won with 14.34m in her final attempt, while Svitlana Stetsyuk of Ukraine set a new F53 European record of 10.50m for silver. Russia’s Alexey Kuznetsov retained his javelin F54 title with a best of 27.03m.
Great Britain enjoyed their most successful afternoon of the championships, winning four gold medals. Hannah Cockroft showed she’s just as capable over the longer distances as she is over the sprints, securing her first major gold medal in the 800m T34.
The 22-year-old Paralympic and world 100m and 200m champion held her nerve after her British team mate Mel Nicholls pushed to the front with 300m to go, powering down the home straight in to the lead and across the line in a time of 2:15.16.
Dan Greaves and Stef Reid lived up to their billing, winning gold out in the field for the host nation. Reid triumphed in the long jump F44 with a leap of 5.32m in her second attempt. The Briton had entered the competition in terrific form, breaking the F44 world record twice this year, although France’s Marie-Amelie Le Fur wasn’t far behind – her best of 5.28m securing silver.
I’m so thrilled. I’ve wanted this for such a long time and I am just so proud I could win a gold medal in front of a home crowd,” said Reid. “Marie and I have been competing against each other for so long I knew it was going to be a very tough competition and I would have to be at my best.
“The conditions were not easy but it gives me great confidence that I am able to jump well in tricky conditions - that will stand me in good stead for the future.”
Greaves meanwhile improved on his personal best, throwing a massive 62.34m in the fourth round to set a new discus F44 European record.
“I’m delighted to have broken my PB – I can’t quite believe it, I smashed the 60m barrier and a European record as well. To do it so emphatically is unbelievable. It was a really tough competition and I am over the moon with my PB but it is agonisingly close to the world record.
“It was tough after the Commonwealths to refocus but I knew what I was capable of. I have sent out a message to [US world record holder] Jeremy Campbell that he can’t have it all his own way.”
There was joy in the British camp too for Moatez Jomni, who secured gold in the 400m T53 after Frenchman Pierre Fairbank was disqualified for a lane infringement.
The Netherland’s 200m world champion Kenny van Weeghel picked up his second 2014 European gold medal of the week following on from his victory in the 400m T54 yesterday. The 33-year-old won the men’s 200m T54 ahead of his rival, Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tahti, clocking 25.73.
“I had a real struggle with the wind, I was going left to right and I was on edge about going out of my lane,” he said. “Leo picked up pretty well over the last 100m and he was getting very close, I was keeping a look out for Marc (Schuh) because I thought he would come up but the last 100m were good for me.”
All four para-athletes in the women’s 400m T12 clocked new personal bests, but it was Ukrainian Oxana Boturchuk who came out on top, finishing well clear of the field in 55.04 to seal her hat trick of golds. Turkey’s Mehmet Nesim Oner won the 1500m T13 in 4:08.02 – a new lifetime best for the 19-year-old.
Italy picked up their second gold medal on the track as Ruud Koutiki Tsilulu won the men’s 400m with a new personal best 49.73, and his compatriot Assunta Legnante (F11) added the discus F11/12 title to the shot put gold she won yesterday, scoring 1068 (29.91m). Sofia Oksem (F12) finished second with 1048 (45.97m) – a new world record for the F12 class.
Stela Eneva of Bulgaria showed she’s the woman to beat in the F57 throws, adding the shot put gold to her discus win yesterday. The 39-year-old managed yet another season’s best in the process, this time throwing 10.58m – 12cm clear of Germany’s Ilke Wyludda who took silver.
Sweden’s Per Jonsson won the long jump T13 with 6.91m, while Ukraine picked up their third gold in the field today - Dmytro Ibragimov getting the better of world record holder Nikita Prokhorov of Russia to win the shot put F46 by just two centimetres, throwing 14.97m.
The live stream from Swansea 2014, together with videos on demand of individual races, are available to embed on websites in some territories via the IPC’s YouTube channel.
For further information please contact IPC Digital Media Manager Natalia Dannenberg-Spreier.
In addition, HD quality broadcast footage from Swansea 2014 is available from the IPC’s Broadcast Manager Jose Manuel Dominguez.
Daily highlights will be available for digital channels via Omnisport, whilst individual races as video on demand can be embedded via Perform’s e-player