The five-time Paralympic gold medallist storms to T34 100m success at the World Para Athletics Championships in London
Five years after her double London 2012 Paralympic Games glory, Hannah Cockroft again thrilled the home crowds with a world record-breaking performance at the World Para Athletics Championships in the UK capital.
“We haven’t had this level of support since London 2012 and it really is like coming home,” the five-time Paralympic gold medallist smiled after storming to success in the T34 100m for her eighth world title.
“Incredible, absolutely incredible,” the 24-year-old wheelchair racer added. “It was quite emotional going out there, I really wanted to cry before I had even started the race! I had to close off and focus on what I was about to do rather than sit and wave at everyone like I wanted to.”
In a thrilling final, Cockroft’s 16-year-old team-mate Kare Adenegan enjoyed a strong start, but the defending champion was picking up the pace and surged over the line with 17.18 on the clock to improve her own world record of 17.25 set earlier this month.
“It is scary going out because you don’t want to let all these people down, so I hope I did them proud tonight and I hope I can do them proud the next two races we’ve got,” said Cockroft, who will return to the track on Monday and Thursday to defend her 800m and 400m titles.
Adenegan, who is the only athlete to have ever beaten Cockroft following a 400m victory in 2015, was delighted with her silver medal-winning success after clocking 18.01.
“I do have a very strong start so I just wanted to utilise that, I thought it would help me for the rest of the race,” she said. “I’m just so happy with the result. To do it here in London is really special.”
USA’s Alexa Halko clocked an area record 18.43 for bronze, while Britain’s Carly Tait was fifth with 19.58.
Gemma Prescott added to GB’s medal haul on the first evening of the championships, throwing 19.97m for bronze in an F32 club throw final won by Algeria’s Mounia Gasmi with a best of 25.07m. Britain’s Abbie Hunnisett was eighth with 15.02m.
Britain’s defending champion Jo Butterfield came close to also enjoying medal-winning success as she was placed third in the F51 club throw with just one athlete left to throw. But it was USA’s Rachael Morrison – who had broken Butterfield’s world record earlier on in the year – and with the final throw of the competition she recorded 22.92m to beat Butterfield’s best of 22.54m and bag bronze.
“I came to defend my title and that’s what I wanted to do but I’m happy with how I threw,” said Rio 2016 champion Butterfield, who has had shoulder injury struggles this season. “I had a good series out there. I felt that they were good throws, and I was beaten on the day by better people.”
The win was claimed by Ukraine’s Zoia Ovsii who surprised with a championship record-breaking 23.74m to improve on her PB of 22.39m.
Kylie Grimes finished one place behind her British team-mate with 18.62m for fifth.
The first evening of action had got off to a world record-breaking start as Australia’s Cameron Crombie secured the first gold of London 2017 after launching the shot out to 15.95m, smashing the global F38 mark which had stood since 2011.
“It is a very special moment for me today, not only because I became the first champion here and also with a world record but also because these are my first world championships,” he said. “It is a big honour to represent my country at this beautiful stadium with so many people cheering for us.”
The F57 shot put was won by Brazil’s Thiago Paulino Santos with a throw of 14.31m, while India’s Sundar Singh Gurjar threw a PB in the F46 javelin for victory.
Back on the track, the women’s T13 1500m for visually impaired runners was won by Sanaa Benhama of Morocco in a 4:40.40 PB, while wheelchair racer Leo Pekka-Tahti of Finland won the T54 100m in 13.95 despite his racing chair breaking.
Britain’s Zak Shaw secured his spot in Saturday’s T12 100m semi-finals after winning his heat, while Ireland’s Michael McKillop eased through his T38 800m heat to book his place in Sunday’s final.