Two reigning world champions - Great Britain’s Aled Davies and Serbia’s Zeljko Dimitrijevic - reaffirmed their dominance out in the field with new world record marks on the fourth morning of competition (Tuesday 14 June) at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy.
Davies added an impressive 4.55m on to the discus F42 mark he set at last year’s World Championships with his third round effort of 54.14m, and he was clearly thrilled with his performance, punching the air with joy as the mark flashed up on the scoreboard.
“I am absolutely delighted with that result. To throw a personal best on the main stage is something every athlete wants to do,” said the 25-year-old, who finished nearly nine metres clear of Luxembourg’s silver medallist Tom Habscheid (45.41m).
“I was shocked more than anything when the distance came up on the screen. I know I can throw a long way but the fact that I am surprised in myself is very exciting. I’m ecstatic to perform like that on the European stage against some top guys in the world.”
Davies, who also safely defended his European shot put title two days ago, now turns his attention to September’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lines up in the shot put F42 - more determined than ever to reach the top of the podium.
“I’m a Paralympic bronze medallist in the shot put and I want to upgrade that,” added the double world record holder.
“Hopefully my Iranian rival [Sajad Mohammadian, world silver medallist] is watching but he can get some big throws out there so I know it is going to be tough.”
Serbia’s world and Paralympic champion Zeljko Dimitrijevic underlined why he is still the man to beat in the men’s club throw F51 improving on his world record throw from London 2012 with a best of 27.04m.
The 45-year-old, who became the first Serbian male to win a gold medal at a Paralympic Games when he topped the podium in London four years ago, extended his world best by 16 centimetres as Czech Radim Beles won silver with 24.32m.
“I feel very happy of course to get a new world record. I’m Paralympic champion, world champion, European champion, world record holder, I can’t ask for more actually,” said Dimitrijevic.
Spain’s Xavier Porras – the top ranked European in the world in the men’s long jump T11 – leapt a new championship record of 6.14m to take the gold in the third final of the morning, although he believes he still has more to give.
"I was just two centimetres short of my personal record, it is OK but I expected a bit more and better from myself, especially in the final stages of my jumps. I’d like to improve on my three final steps before the jump - I need to be faster and a bit more powerful," said Porras.
There were four semi-finals out on the track too.
A third European title awaits Great Britain’s multiple Paralympic champion David Weir, but only if he gets past the likes of Russia’s Aleksei Bychenok as well as his British teammate Richard Chiassaro in the final of the men’s 800m T54 later today.
Chiassaro, who won the men’s 200m T54 on Sunday, won the first semi-final with a championship record 1:33.13, while Weir (1:35.08) cruised over the line behind Bychenok (1:35.77) in the second race.
An exciting women’s 400m T20 final is on the cards after Poland’s top T20 Para athletes all progressed through their semi-finals.
Arleta Meloch set a new world record in the 800m T20 on Sunday and she won her semi-final in 1:00.63, while reigning world champion Barabara Niewiedzial set a new championship record of 1:00.00 as she finished first in the second heat – without even appearing to go at full speed.
Poland’s Joanna Mazur won the 200m T11 on Saturday ahead of Russia’s silver medallist Alina Samigulina – both won their 100m semi-finals today.
Spanish sprinters Jose Luis Fernandez Tauler (50.43) and Joan Munar Martinez (51.18) won their respective heats in the men’s 400m T12 ahead of Wednesday’s final.
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