“During the race, I felt like it was going really well but honestly at the end, in terms of time, I didn’t know it was going to be that close or under the world record. I was really excited by that. This was my first track world record.”
An unofficial world record by Paralympian Cassie Mitchell highlighted the opening day of the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships held at Hamline University on Friday (19 June).
Mitchell, a wheelchair sprinter and field athlete in the T51 class, found great success on the track with the world mark in the women’s 200m race, crossing the finish line in 44.17 seconds. Although Kerry Morgan took gold in the event, Mitchell’s performance exceeded her own expectations as she smashed the previous world record of 53.26 set by Canada’s Becky Richter last month in Switzerland. Before Richter’s efforts, the record has stood since 1998.
“It definitely came as a surprise,” Mitchell said. “During the race, I felt like it was going really well but honestly at the end, in terms of time, I didn’t know it was going to be that close or under the world record. I was really excited by that. This was my first track world record.”
After recently being sidelined due to health issues, Mitchell is regaining the confidence that won her three medals at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships. The personal achievement was especially significant for Mitchell as she reflects on her journey to this year’s nationals.
“I’ve had a lot of health issues this spring so that’s been an obstacle for me,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s just really thrilling knowing how much I’ve had to overcome with my health to see that all come to a head with a really amazing result. I think that made it more special for me than maybe it even would’ve been otherwise.”
In the women’s javelin F34/53-57, two-time Paralympian Angela Madsen also added an American record for the F56 class to her long list of accolades with a throw of 16.37m. Madsen returned in solid form after a three year absence from nationals, having last competed in 2012 at the event in Indianapolis.
Shaquille Vance showcased why he is the London 2012 Paralympic Games silver medallist in the men’s 200m T42, running away with both the prelim and final races in the homestretch. Vance finished with 25.97 on a windy evening to shave 0.24 of a second off his time in the finals. He hopes to build on his momentum from nationals to represent Team USA at the upcoming Parapan Am Games and IPC Athletics World Championships in August and October respectively.
“Hopefully I can take this first place and transfer it over to world championships and Parapan Ams,” Vance said. “I’m definitely looking for gold at both events and I want to break the world record so I’m preparing. It’s going to be a fun year for me.”
In the men’s 200m T43/44 race, Richard Browne led the 1-2-3 Paralympic charge to secure the national title with Blake Leeper following in second and Jarryd Wallace in third. Browne, the current world record holder for the 100m and 200m T44, cruised on the fast Hamline track to cross the line at 21.88 in the finals.
Other newly crowned national champions include: April Holmes in the women’s 200m T44/45, Tatyana McFadden in the women’s 800m and 5000m T53/54, Aaron Pike in the men’s 5000m, Michael Wishnia in the men’s shot put F34/54-57, Tobi Fawehinmi in the men’s triple jump F20/45-47, Amy Watt in the women’s long jump F20/37-38/42 and many more.
Competition runs through to Sunday (21June) at Hamline University Klas track and field. Full results can be found here.