Another medal-laden day sees Britain land five golds, three silvers and one bronze medal
There was plenty of success for the Great Britain team to celebrate on day four of the WPA European Championships, with five gold, three silver and one bronze medal being added to the tally in Berlin.
Aled Davies had got the day off to an impressive start, capturing his third European title in a row after breaking the championship record on five of his six attempts. His furthest throw went out to 50.55m, with Luxembourg’s Tom Habscheid taking silver thanks to a throw of 46.22m.
“It’s been a tough year,” said two-time Paralympic champion Davies, who will now turn his attention to attempting to win the shot and has been working on how best to utilise the leg brace he requires for support. “We saw this year as one to kind of experiment, kind of minimise my disability to throw further, but a lot of those haven’t worked, unfortunately, so I haven’t had a consistent technical block. For me, 50m, considering the circumstances, I have to be happy. I am not sure how I won, I wasn’t the best man, they missed an opportunity there because it is the closest they will ever get to me.”
There was also gold for Britain later in the day in the men’s F64 discus, Dan Greaves taking the title thanks to a throw of 57.65m.
“I have come here for a medal, I take it very seriously, for me it is a case of walking away with gold and nothing else. I just wanted to put a bit of a show on for everyone who came down to watch,” he said.
Sprinter Sophie Hahn continues to dominate on the track and she secured her first European title by running 26.51 (-1.8) to break the championship record in the women’s T38 200m, with Germany’s Lindy Ave second in 27.24.
“To win another title means so much to me,” said Hahn, who now has Paralympic, World, Commonwealth and European 200m titles to her name. “I have worked so hard and I am going to just keep getting quicker and stronger. I am really happy with my performance. I was only really concentrating on my own race so it wasn’t until I have just watched it back I realised how close it was.
“I have got great friends and family behind me so I am here to stay, I’m not going anywhere, and I am only going to get faster.”
These championships have seen the debut of RaceRunning and Britain enjoyed a one-two in both the men’s and women’s RR3 100m events.
The women’s title was taken by Hannah Dines in a time of 19.00 (-0.7), ahead of compatriot and training partner Kayleigh Haggo, who clocked 19.46. A tight race had looked on the cards when both broke world records in the morning heats.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” said Dines, who competed for the British cycling team in the trike events in the Rio Paralympics. “I would like to thank the World Para Athletics association for giving people this opportunity, not just me, but there are eight girls out there who did personal bests.
“I have got a lovely Glasgow team and I have been training with them in the run-up. Having the opportunity to compete on the world stage is incredibly important and I am delighted to win gold.”
The men followed the example set by their female team-mates, with Gavin Drysdale crossing the line first in 17.37 (-1.0) and Rafi Solaiman in second with a time of 19.33.
“I felt like I had already won a gold medal just by being here so to win a real one is absolutely incredible,” said Drysdale. “It means the absolute world to me to be competing here in Berlin, I still can’t believe we are actually here, I am usually cheering everyone from my TV screen at home and now I am on the other side having just competed.”
The other British gold also came in a 100m sprint, this time the men’s T36 class. After a false start meant the field had to be called back to the blocks, it was 38-year-old Graeme Ballard who composed himself best to win his first European crown thanks to a season’s best of 12.32 (-0.8). Ukraine’s Roman Pavlyk was second in 12.55.
“When the false start went, I just had to refocus, I just had to gather myself and go again. I gathered my thoughts, I looked down my lane and there was no one else in the race in my eyes,” said Ballard.
In the men’s T34 400m, Ben Rowlings’ run of 55.92 took silver, behind Henry Manni of Finland’s championship record of 54.40, while the last British medal of the day went to Nathan Maguire in the T54 800m, as he won bronze following two disqualifications. He had originally finished fifth with his time of 1:40.82 but, after France’s Julien Casoli and Germany’s Alhassane Balde were both disqualified, he took a podium spot.
Jason Smyth is no stranger to medal ceremonies and the prolific sprinter added the T13 100m title to the 200m gold he had won earlier in the week. The Irishman clocked a championship record 10.66 to ensure victory, while there was a world record from Poland’s Barbara Niewiedzial as she reclaimed the 800m T20 title.
Full results from Day Four can be found here