Blake, who took silver in the event at London 2012, wins the 14th gold for the British athletics team in Rio
Paul Blake claimed the British Paralympic team’s 50th gold medal in Rio with an impressive victory in the T36 400m.
The 26-year-old was runner-up four years ago, but went into Rio as world No.1 and was unfazed by his lane eight draw as he clocked his second fastest time ever of 54.49 – his quickest since winning silver at London 2012.
After securing the British athletics team a 14th gold, Blake will now attempt to add to the growing collection in the 800m on Saturday night.
Blake said: “It feels incredible – I’ve worked so hard to get where I am now. Coming out of London, I wanted to go one better. I’m still lost for words and it just hasn’t sunk in. I’m sure it will later on or maybe after the 800m.”
In the absence of Russia’s world champion and world record-holder Evgenii Shvetcov, Blake entered the race as favourite, but an unfavourable outside lane draw saw him quickly caught by the Polish runner on his inside.
Blake maintained his composure to position himself on Krzysztof Ciuksza’s shoulder and overtake him with 90 metres remaining. Pavlyk and Australia’s William Stedman were eventually left to battle it out for the minor medals and the Ukrainian took it by two hundredths of a second in 55.67.
Blake said about his draw in lane eight: “I was just trying to stay relaxed – with the 200m training I’ve been doing this season I knew if I didn’t tense up, I’d be fine. If I had done, I’d have lost my form and panicked. I kept my form and thank god it panned out well.”
It was a disappointing finish for David Weir’s track career, however, after the British T53/54 4x400m squad failed to qualify for the final, finishing way back on the Chinese quartet who set a world record of 3:04.77.
Despite a second-placed finish in their heat, the British squad was the fifth team on time over the two heats and finished nearly three seconds slower than the next fastest Canadian team.
The six-time Paralympic gold medallist Weir, teaming with Nathan Maguire, Mo Jomni and Richard Chiassaro, was unable to win himself a medal in any of his four track events, and will now turn his sights to the marathon in one last effort to win himself a medal in Rio.
Blake wasn’t the only athlete to benefit from Russia’s suspension from the Games. With world record-holder and European champion Andrei Vdovin ineligible, South Africa’s Charl du Toit took gold in a Paralympic record of 51.13 in the T37 400m from Omar Monterola and Sofiane Hamdi in second and third respectively.
After opting against retirement following the Paralympics in London, Poland’s Barbara Niewiedzial successfully defended her T20 1500m – a category for athletes with an intellectual impairment – crushing her championship record by more than 10 seconds with a 4:24.37 win over Ilona Biacsi and Liudmyla Danylina.
In the T47 category American Deja Young added to her 100m gold medal with victory in the 200m, holding off her Polish rival Alicja Fiodorow – runner-up behind Young over the short sprint – to win in 25.46.
Zeljko Dimitrijevic set a world record of 29.96m in the F51 club throw final for gold, Bulgaria’s Ruzhdi Ruzhdi took gold in the F54/55 shot put with a 12.33m world record throw and world champion Garrah Tnaiash won the F40 shot put with 10.76m.
Silvania Costa de Oliveira won gold for the host nation with her final leap of 4.98m in the T11 long jump and Lorena Salvatini Spoladore added to Brazil’s medal haul with 4.71m for bronze behind Ivory Coast’s Fatimata Brigitte Diasso with a 4.89m PB.
Full results can be found here.