German long jumper in brilliant form at WPA European Championships, while Sophie Hahn, Hannah Cockroft and Thomas Young lead GB medal charge
Britain won three more gold medals on the penultimate day of competition at the WPA European Championships in Berlin although the individual performance of the day came from T64 long jumper Markus Rehm.
To the delight of the home crowd, the German sailed out to an extraordinary world record of 8.48m, which would have easily won gold in the able-bodied championships earlier in the month.
The 30-year-old, who competes with a prosthetic limb, saved his best until last in the blustery conditions at the city’s Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark on Saturday (August 25), adding one centimetre on to the world record he set seven weeks ago.
“To be honest I did not expect a world record,” he said. “At the beginning I was really struggling with the conditions, but I knew if I hit the board properly and I could get some tailwind on top then I could jump very far, and I think it worked out in the end.”
Now the German star has set his sights even further. “I’m coming closer, 8.50m is the next big barrier which separates good long jumpers from the best and I want to be one of the best, so 8.50m is definitely my goal,” he added.
There were British victories for Sophie Hahn, Hannah Cockroft and 18 year-old Thomas Young as they took the medal tally up to 45 with one day still to go.
Cockroft won her 18th major international title in the women’s T34 800m final to gain revenge for her 100m loss earlier in the championships to GB team-mate Kare Adenegan.
She controlled the three-woman race from the off and then held off the late challenge of her younger rival along the finishing straight.
Cockroft narrowly won in a Championship record 2:14.21 with Adenegan 0.17 seconds behind taking the silver.
The multi Paralympian champion said: “My old coach used to tell me that everyone remembers medals, and no one remembers times so that is all you have got to think about.
“I knew I had to go in from the start and put in a quick start because I know that is Kare’s strength and I just had to play it from there really. I have worked really hard on my 800m, especially my tactics, it was nice to be in control out there and to feel comfortable all of the way around.”
Adenegan, who finished in lane four, said: “I have had a really long week, but I am happy because it was close, it was very close. I didn’t have a lot left at the end and when I look back now, maybe I could have done it.
“Hannah raced really well, and I am pleased with how I raced, my tactics are getting better. The 100m and 800m are different. You wouldn’t expect Usain Bolt to go and do an 800m. The tactics are different and the training is different. It has been fun training for all of them. The 100m was my main event but I do enjoy the 800m and I just need to get more experience in it.”
Hahn added her second gold of the championships in the women’s T38 100m. She followed up her 200m on success on Thursday as she won by over five metres in a championship record 12.52.
She then returned to the track to join forces with Zachary Shaw, Laura Sugar and Dillon Labrooy to help the British team to the universal 4x100m final with a 49.59 win.
She said: “I came here to defend my title, but I knew it would be hard because you have got the Hungarian girl, and the Germans. I just wanted to win the race and I am so happy I defended my title.
“The relay was exciting. It was quite hard because we have only had one practice, but it was great fun, I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to repeat it again.”
Hahn had two British team-mates in her 100m final with fellow world and Commonwealth champion Olivia Breen claiming bronze in a season’s best 13.30.
Ali Smith, competing in her fourth event in Berlin, which included 400m silver, placed fifth in a PB 13.55.
Shortly after Hahn, Young produced a stunning run to capture the men’s T38 200m crown. Making his senior international debut in Berlin, he got off to a superb start and he repelled the challenge of Mykyta Senyk of Ukraine with a strong finish to take gold in a personal best of 23.70.
Young said: “I am over the moon, it is a fantastic achievement. It wasn’t easy. I knew the guy to the left of me was coming and I had to keep going. At 30m to go I was going as fast as I ever have.”
Behind Young, fellow senior international debutants Ross Paterson and Kyle Keyworth set respective PBs of 24.96 and 26.74 in fourth and sixth.
Graeme Ballard rounded off 14 years of international competition with bronze in the men’s T36 200m.
Nathan Maguire and Mo Jomni also picked up bronze medals in the T54 and T53 100m finals respectively as they also both took their individual medal totals to three each in Berlin.
Steve Morris finished an agonising fourth for the second day in a row in Berlin, just shy of the podium in the men’s T20 1500m final 24 hours after just missing out on the podium in the 800m. The Briton was well placed throughout but faded on the last lap as he ran 4:01.21.
Finland’s five-time Paralympic champion Leo Pekka Tahti powered home to gold with 13.83 in the 100m T54 having won the 200m and 400m T54 already this week.
» See the August 30 issue of AW for full coverage