The British thrower reflects on her medal-winning performance at the Rio Paralympic Games
Gemma Prescott added a bronze medal to Britain’s Rio Paralympic Games tally, finishing third in the F32 club throw with a distance of 19.77m on Friday. While delighted with the medal, Prescott, whose PB is 22.21m, felt she had more to give.
“If I am honest I am a little disappointed with my distance,” she said. “But I have got a medal, which is what I came for, and I am happy with that.”
While there was not a big crowd in the Estádio Olímpico, most were in the lower stand on the back straight which meant they were directly in front of the club throw competition, creating a nice atmosphere.
“It was a great experience,” said Prescott. “The crowd was great and it was good to see them getting behind Paralympic sport. You could see people in the crowd having fun and enjoying watching Paralympic sport – perhaps people who have never seen Paralympic sport before. That is valuable in itself.”
After failing to achieve a medal at the 2015 IPC World Championships, Prescott lost her funding. However, a good winter set her up for a summer which has included a European silver medal and a new lifetime best.
“It has been a great 2016 for me and to finish it off with a Paralympic medal is something special,” said the 32-year-old. “I’ve worked hard this year and had a lot of support from family and friends, and my coach (Mike Wood) pulling everything together. It will be a nice moment to get on the podium.”
While most para-athletics events are what might be described as “adapted sports” because you take the sport in its original form and adapt it to make it more widely accessible, the club throw is the only discipline which is unique to para-athletics. The IPC throwing events are the shot put, discus, javelin and club throw.
The object of club throw is simply to throw the club as far as possible. The event was introduced for both men and women at the first summer Paralympic Games in 1960 but was dropped from the women’s programme from the 1992 Games before being reinstated for London 2012. The event is contested by men and women in the F31* and F51* classes.
Club throw may be an unfamiliar event to some, but why is there any more kudos in throwing a hammer, than a club?
* The 30s sport classes are allocated to athletes with athetosis, ataxia and/or hypertonia – often conditions associated with cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury. Athletes in the 31 class compete in a seated position, e.g. in wheelchair racing or using a throwing chair. In the 50s sport classes, all athletes compete in a seated position, either in wheelchair or on a throwing chair, due to impaired muscle power, restricted range of movement, limb deficiency or leg length difference. Again, a lower number indicates a higher activity limitation.