The sprinter improved her own T37 400m world record to 60.63 and was among three British champions on day three of the IPC Athletics European Championships
In one of the highlights of the IPC Athletics European Championships so far, Britain’s Georgie Hermitage produced the race of her life to lower her own T37 400m world record to 60.63 and win gold on the third day of action in Grosseto, Italy.
In the mixed T37/38 race, not one but two world records were smashed as Russia’s T38 world champion Margarita Goncharova also improved the world record mark for her class to 62.12.
“It was always going to be a hard race in a mixed classification race,” said Hermitage. “I was very aware I would be running it blind with Goncharova on the inside so when she overtook me on the back straight I did panic for a second but I tried to remember what to do.
“Coming into the home straight I had that little bit more left and it all paid off in the end.
“The 400m is what made me come into Paralympic sport. It is the one that really matters to me. It is not just about speed but about heart, courage and determination. So to come out on top today has put me in a good place going forward to Rio.”
A short while later Goncharova returned to competition to defend her T38 long jump title and she did so with a championship record leap of 5.11m for a mark just 11 centimetres off the world record she set last year. Britain’s Olivia Breen was fourth with a 4.34m PB. That was Goncharova’s third medal of the competition as she claimed the 200m title in a world record 26.46 the day before.
Six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir further proved his versatility by adding the T54 400m crown to the 5000m title he won on Sunday. It was his first major medal over the distance since the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and he looked in good form to take the win in a championship record of 46.10. He was joined on the podium by another Briton for the first time as Richard Chiassaro took the silver medal after clocking 46.46.
“I was saying in warm-up that it would be great to have another Brit on the podium alongside me, I’ve never had it before,” said Weir. “I didn’t really mind what colour I got to be honest but it’s great to get a one-two with Rich.”
Aptly-named Toby Gold won his first T33 100m title, clocking 17.64. After claiming bronze at the IPC Athletic World Championships in 2015, the Weir Archer Academy athlete wanted to make amends and he did so ahead of Dan Bramall who was awarded the silver ahead of Andrew Small.
GB team co-captain Sam Ruddock led by example to take home the silver medal in the F35 shot put. After finishing fifth in the world final last year, the Loughborough-based athlete is going from strength to strength in the event, earning a podium spot with a 13.65m effort, his second furthest ever.
In the T53 400m there was double British joy as Mo Jomni won silver and the returning Mickey Bushell claimed bronze behind Russia’s winner Vitalii Gritsenko with a championship record of 49.01. Jomni, who won the 200m title on Sunday, bettered his compatriot’s British record with a time of 49.40 to earn his second European medal of the week. Bushell, the Paralympic 100m champion, has endured injuries in the last couple of years but was back in fine form to make his way back on to the podium, recording a time of 51.04.
There was also a trio of bronze medals from Jordan Howe, who took third place in the T35 200m with a time of 28.27, Laura Sugar, who retained her bronze medal from Swansea in the T44 200m recording a time of 28.29 behind Germany’s champion Irmgard Bensusan, and Ben Rowlings, who matched his bronze medal in the 400m yesterday in the shorter 100m sprint, taking it in 16.67.
Russia’s Natalia Kocherova, who targets six European titles in Grosseto, won her third gold, winning the T54 400m in a 55.83 championship record to add to the 200m and 5000m titles she has already claimed.
Ireland secured two gold medals in the field as world bronze medallist Orla Barry claimed the F57 discus title with a PB throw of 31.18m to follow Noelle Lenihan’s world record-breaking performance of 32.14m in the F38 discus.