The Paralympians came to town for the closing day of the 2015 Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium in the shape of the IPC Grand Prix Final.
On a very rainy afternoon as like Friday evenings action today was a real mixed bag of celebrating and paying respects to the current crop of defending Paralympic champions but also seeing some of the new talent that has emerged from over the past few years and who many are hoping to spend next summer in the warmer climes of Rio.
Team GB had a real mix of the good and the bad but thankfully nothing ugly during the afternoons sport in Stratford, a passionate and loyal crowd though made sure that all their efforts no matter what the result,did not go unnoticed.
On the bad front the finale of the day the Men’s T54 1500m saw David Weir unable to peg back the Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug as the world champion led from start to finish, Weir was always in a prominent position but couldn’t find anything when needed as Hug broke the stadium record of 3.11.17 by going in off 3.04.15, Weir came in fifth but he will head to Doha in October in a much stronger position.
Jonnie Peacock in the Men’s T44 100m was just edged out by American runner Richard Browne,both recorded times of 11.02 for Peacock and 10.96,it appears that the Peacock feathers were well and truly ruffled, Browne is a class act and a showman to boot,it will take a good one to beat him.
James Arnott and Kyle Powell came second and fourth respectively in the Men’s T47 100m behind Poland’s Michal Mateuzs, both ran very well in a very fast race.
In the Women’s T44 100m race both Sophie Kamlish and Laura Sugar had to settle for second and third behind the excellent Dutch runner Marlou van Rhijn in 13.05,Sugar took the early pace on but once the Blade Babe hit her stride it was all over.
The Women’s T54 1500m race was another in which like the Men’s race the race was won from being up with the early speed as Manuela Schaer gave the Swiss a metric mile double, taking over with 800m to go she pulled clear of American Chelsea McClammer to win in 3.38.50, the British trio of Jade Jones,Sam Kinghorn and Shelly Woods were left to have their own private battle for bronze which was eventually took by Jones.
However despite a few below par performances on the track their was plenty of high quality ones that got the crowd rocking.
First up was 18yo T38 sprint sensation Sophie Hahn, after many months of dreaming about what it would be like to win in the Olympic Stadium, the Speedy Ginge who took up athletics after watching the Paras in 2012 has quickly developed into one of the best in this grade and this afternoon broke the world record that she currently owns by winning In a time of 13.00 from second placed Paralympic Champion runner Margarita Goncharova in 13.07, Hahn will almost certainly be one of the favourites for the Worlds in October and next years Paralympics in Rio.
Georgina Hermitage was another World Record breaking athlete in the Women’s T37 400m as she blitzed the field in 1.02.48 finishing over four seconds clear of France’s Mandy Francois Elie, taking over with 120m to go she was simply in another league from the rest.
In the Women’s T12 200m only four went to post and with 50m to go all four had a chance, Libby Clegg and her guide runner Mikail Huggins suddenly found an extra gear and went on to win from Chinese runners Liu Cuiqing and Zhou Guohua, Both Clegg and Huggins have a real bond on the track and this is so evident when they race, a fine example of trust and respect for each other
Richard Whitehead took the Men’s T42 200m in his usual style,always a slow starter he picked up off the bend and flew down the lane in 25.79, Runner up was David Henson for a GB 1-2, Henson took part in last years inaugural Invictus Games and has a bright future in the sport, Rio could be calling for him and nobody would begrudge him a chance of glory.
The star of the show was no doubt as expected the hurricane that is Hannah Cockroft the dual Gold medalist in 2012 she went in the Women’s T34 400m to which as expected Hannah won but it wasn’t as dominant as we have expected to see from the Golden Girl of British Wheelchair Racing as 14yo Kare Adenegan went with her for a lot of the race until the class of Cockroft showed and she pulled away to win in 1.03.67 from Adenegan in 1.05.68.
Hannah will be aiming for a triple assault on Rio next year in the 100,200 and 800 metre races, trying to stop her will be difficult as she simply oozes class and is everything a champion should be.
Kare Adenegan has a huge future ahead of her and looks a natural successor to Cockroft, She will have learnt so much from this race.
Field wise Joanna Butterfield F51 won the combined F32 & F51 Club Throw with a total combined score of 1172 points which set a new National and Stadium record,her best throw of 21.50 on her third attempt of six was her best throw with four of her throws going over Twenty metres, she was comfortably clear of Americas Rachel Morrison in second place.
Abbie Hunniset and Gemma Prescott came fourth and fifth in the field of six,both are F32 class and Hunniset set a new National record with 937 points and a top distance of 21.01.
A fine afternoon of Para Athletics in the Olympic Stadium, expect plenty from today to be on the plane to Doha in October and for Rio next year.
Since 2012 the quality of athletes coming through has improved,established competitors such as Hannah Cockroft and David Weir can be proud of the fact that what they did has paved the way forward for athletes like Sophie Hahn and Kare Adenegan to be the new generation of Paralympic stars.
As usual much credit must go to the people of British Athletics for putting on a top show and of course the 20,000 or so people who turned up to witness some excellent action.
Until the next event,Thank you and keep reading and spreading this blog.