British Para athletes will be out in force this summer, competing on home soil at the World Para Athletics Championships, which take place at London’s Olympic Park from 14-23 July.
With the rousing support of a home crowd urging them on, which Brits will strike gold?
Here are 10 of the host nation’s top contenders:
1. Jonnie Peacock (100m T44)
He’s done it before and he’ll be determined to do it again – Jonnie Peacock is the man for the big occasion. Gold medallist at London 2012, Peacock also won the world title in 2013, the European title in 2014 and most recently Paralympic gold at Rio 2016. The 23-year-old, who missed the last World Championships through injury, will be the man to beat in the blue riband men’s 100m T44.
2. Aled Davies (shot put & discus F42)
Davies has dominated the men’s F42 throwing events in recent years, and was justifiably favourite for shot put gold at Rio 2016 – which he duly won, more than 1.5 metres clear of his rivals. The reigning world and European champion in both the shot put and discus F42, Davies will have his sights set on double gold in London.
3. Richard Whitehead (200m T42)
Winner of the 200m T42 at the last three World Championships, Whitehead plans to retire from competitive track racing after London 2017. The 40-year-old shows no sign of slowing down however, having broken his own world record back in the London stadium last year. What better way to bow out than winning gold in front of a rapturous home crowd?
4. Paul Blake (400m & 800m T36)
Blake has stood on the podium at every World Championships since making his debut in 2011, winning three gold and four silver medals to date. At Rio 2016 he won 400m T36 gold, then was beaten to the line in the 800m after a terrific display of front-running by Australia’s James Turner. Can he turn the tables with the support of a home crowd?
5. Libby Clegg (100m & 200m T11)
Clegg proved unshakable last year, dealing with a change of guide and a change of class – she now runs in the T11 class, where athletes wear blindfolds – with apparent ease. She won double sprint gold at Rio 2016 and broke both the 100m and 200m T11 world records last year too. She will be the one to beat in London.
6. Hannah Cockroft (100m, 400m, 800m T34)
The T34 wheelchair racer won her first title in 2011 and has been adding to that tally ever since. With seven world, five Paralympic and two European titles to her name, she is unbeaten on the big stage.
7. Georgie Hermitage (100m, 400m T37)
Hermitage enjoyed a hugely successful year in 2016, winning four gold medals at the Grosseto 2016 European Championships (100m, 200m, 400m T37 and 4x100m T35-38). She went on to clinch 100m and 400m T37 gold, plus relay silver, at Rio 2016 – breaking both individual world records in the process.
8. Sophie Hahn (100m T38)
Hahn was inspired to take up Para athletics after watching the London 2012 Paralympics: now she has a chance to create her own moment of glory at the same venue. As the reigning world, Paralympic and European 100m T38 champion she will be favourite to do just that. Watch out for her British teammate Kadeena Cox.
9. Hollie Arnold (javelin F46)
Two-time world champion in the javelin F46, Arnold added the Paralympic crown to her list of achievements last year, adding nearly two metres on to the previous world record in the process. If she continues with that form she will be hard to beat.
10. Jo Butterfield (club throw F51)
Butterfield only made her international debut in 2014, but since then she has shown terrific progress in the women’s club throw F51. She broke the world record twice last year – first at the 2016 European Championships, then at the Paralympic Games. She is the reigning world champion too and will be out to retain that title in July.
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