European success ahead of London 2012
Paul Dancey on 02/07/2012
The last major competition before the London 2012 Paralympic Games saw Welsh Success at the IPC European Athletics Championships.
Seven Welsh athletes were part of the GB & NI squad competing in Stadskanaal, Netherlands over the last week, winning 10 of the 28 medals, which equates to 36% of the total won.
Securing an European title in horrendous conditions on the first day of competition was sprinter Tracey Hinton with her guide-runner Stephan Hughes in the T11 100m event.
Hinton's winning time of 13.22 would have been her quickest outright since 2008 had it not been for an illegal wind, but the gold medal performance was yet another impressive display from the five-time Paralympian from Cardiff.
"My 100m seems to be getting better every time I run at the moment," said the double World medallist over 200m and 400m.
"I've done a lot of speed work on my own (without my guide) and that's given me confidence and definitely helped me. I'm pleased with that today."
Earlier in the day, Bev Jones opened proceedings for the Aviva GB & NI team with silver in the women's F37 shot putt with a best distance of 9.94m in torrential rain.
"I’m not overly pleased with my performance, but I thought I did well in the conditions," said the 2005 champion from Queensferry who was beaten by European Record holder Eva Berna of the Czech Republic (10.24m).
"I feel better now; I think you always feel better once you get started in a Championship, and to get a medal gives me confidence going into the discus on Wednesday."
Olivia Breen - who was making her Aviva GB & NI début - recorded a significant new lifetime best of 29.07 in a race won by top-ranked Russian Margarita Goncharova (28.39).
"I’m so thrilled, it felt so good," said the 15-year-old City of Portsmouth athlete, who's family are from Cardiff. "We’ve been working on my start and also on my bend and I’m really pleased, I think the bend was the best bit of my race today, but I also managed to stay really focused into the home straight.
"I'm much more confident now because I know what I need to do, and I know I can do it, so I’m looking forward to my 100m. I’m just thrilled, it's a lot of hard work, but it's worth it."
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jenny McLoughlin added European silver to her fast improving CV when finishing second in the T37 200m in a new personal best time of 30.10.
"I was frustrated to be drawn in lane six because I know I'm in good shape and I qualified second fastest, but you take what you get," said double IWAS World Junior Champion (2011) McLoughlin from Chepstow.
"I knew I just had to run my own race and I think I ran a good race, I had a strong start but the bend was tough because you’re out there on your own.
"I suppose it's a bit bitter-sweet, I'm delighted with a silver medal but you go out there to win. Overall thought it's positive, we have three good girls in our group in this event/class and we're all in the relay squad which makes for a great team as well as pushing us all on to improve."
Tracey Hinton doubled her Gold medal tally in the 200m. She had run a quick qualifying time in the heats but admitted that she hadn't been happy with her bend; she was more positive after today's 27.31 (+2.2m/s) performance: "That (the bend) was a lot better and it enabled me to come off into the straight a lot stronger," she said following her victory.
IPC World Championships bronze medallist Duke (Anthony Hughes) - who has increased his lifetime best by almost four metres to 37.39m in the past 12 months - was third in the men's F40 javelin with 31.43m but was disappointed with his execution: "I just couldn’t get my head round it today," he said. "I set a PB here last year but I just didn't have it today."
Breen, who has gained valuable event experience on her Aviva GB & NI début this week, made it onto the podium again in the T38 100m clocking a brilliant new lifetime best of 14.10.
Two-time Paralympian Claire Williams (Carmarthen) won the first medal of her career when she took bronze in the F11/12 discus.
Williams, who has a 43.15m best with the 1km implement, threw 36.20m for third and although disappointed not to throw further, was upbeat after a consistent series in a strong field that included her biggest rivals.
"I've not been great on consistency this season so it's something I've been working on," she said; "but because of that, I've had to step back off the intensity a bit and I think that's what was missing today.
"I'm really happy to win a medal and if someone had offered me that before the competition I'd have taken it, but I wish I could have gone closer to my PB. It's my best series for a while though and I've got time to go back now and work on the intensity of my throws.
"Most of the girls out there today threw close to their bests while I was a bit off mine, but when it all comes together I know I can come back and win gold."
In the men's F40 shot putt, Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes) - bronze medallist in the javelin - once again finished third in an event won by Paschalis Stathelikos (Greece) in a new World Record of 13.01m.
Duke was outside his own lifetime best with 10.73m, but it was his third best effort ever, in what is admittedly his number two event.
back to article index