London to launch twin bid for para worlds
Sprinter beats own world best on night of glory Shot putter Davies signals Commonwealth intent
A powerful bid to stage the World Para Athletics Championships in the UK in 2019 and 2021, with plans for the Para World Swimming Championships to take place at the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park at the same time as athletics in 2021 is being drawn up with the backing of sponsors and government.
It is likely that UK Sport backing will also be necessary through their ‘major events’ funding. After the most successful World Para Athletics Championships in history, it is understood by The Sunday Telegraph that Andrew Parsons, the paralympic movement’s vicepresident, is enthusiastic about the championships returning to London. Possibly twice more.
Parsons, who is Brazilian, is the favourite of four candidates to be elected in as the new president of the IPC next month. Tonight, in a closing address, after 10 days of competition, Parsons is expected to say that the IPC is “hungry for more” from Britain, and that the Paralympic Movement “considers Britain as home”.
Craig Spence, the IPC’s spokesperson, added yesterday that “there is no host city contract currently signed for 2019; obviously this event has gone better than any other world championships and if London wishes to bid for this event for 2019, then we would certainly consider it, and take it very very seriously.” The IPC World Aquatics Championships does not yet have a home for 2021, either.
Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, all but gave the green light for government support for another chapter in London, or at least the UK. The Minister told The Sunday Telegraph: “The quality of the staging and support mean we are a world leader in such events.”
With over 280,000 tickets sold, these championships, commercially and in spectator terms, are the most successful by a huge margin over.
“It makes total sense if we come back,” said triple gold medal winning wheelchair racer Hannah Cockcroft. “No one organises para sport like Britain does.”
This was the most super of Saturdays for the British para athletes at the London Stadium, an evening filled with medals and records.
Sophie Hahn broke her own world record as she took the T38 100m title, leaving compatriot Kadeena Cox in second. Georgina Hermitage, who already had the 400m title, broke the championship record held by Cox to win the T37 100m.
And, in the field, the giant Welsh shot putter Aled Davies, complete with his leather-bound leg brace that looks like something that might be favoured in the specialist night clubs of Soho, demolished his own world record.
Those were not the only records that went. Before the start of the evening’s action, the British team had drawn level with the medal performance at Doha in the last World Championships.
In an astonishing 60-minute bullion snatch, they accumulated a flurry of medals that places them well ahead of their previous best tally with a day’s competition yet to come.
With temperatures more October than July, and puddles pockmarking the track, the charge began with the women’s T38 100m final. There was always a hope that medals would come from here, as the three Britons on the start line were already winners: Hahn had the 200m title on her CV, Olivia Breen had won the long jump and Cox, the serial winner from Rio, took the 400m prize on Friday night.
However, that win had taken its toll. Cox had been seen making her way back from the cool-down track being carried by members of her team, her right leg dragging behind her.
“It’s because of my MS,” she explained. “I get really bad spasms and a 400m doesn’t really help, it pushed me over the boundary.” However, there was no suggestion of her difficult buildup as she stood on the line. Grinning widely she waved to the sizeable crowd filling much of the stadium. But, from the moment the gun sounded, she was behind the slight figure of Hahn. Her stride pattern smooth and easy, Hahn immediately put her own world record in jeopardy. Three quarters of the way through the race she was yards ahead of the rest of the runners. And as she crossed the line, she looked at the scoreboard and broke into a huge smile, punching the air.
“I just caught a glimpse of the clock and saw 12.44. I was absolutely over the moon.” Cox came in second, while Breen was just pipped for third by Lindy Ave of Germany.
“I think this is the biggest run I’ve ever performed,” added Hahn. “It felt amazing and the crowd here really moved me along.” Forty minutes after Hahn had crossed the line, Georgina Hermitage set off in the 100m T37. The former able-bodied runner from Guildford holds world records at 100, 200 and 400. She was slow out of the blocks but, with a determined display, was soon obliging the rest of the field to look at the tattoos on her shoulders. She crossed the line in 13.36, a championship record. Her first reaction was to run to the section of the crowd where her four-year-old daughter was waiting, waving a union flag.
“That’s the biggest crowd I have performed in front of,” Hermitage said. “The roar was unbelievable. At the moment, it seems London is the only place that pulls the crowds and we need to get this on a global scale.”
The roar was in full voice as the massive figure of Aled Davies celebrated his victory moments later in the shot put. Davies threw 17.52m to take the title by several metres.
Not only did that smash his own world record of 16.13m, his was the third longest throw by any British athlete this year, able-bodied or not. It can only pique his ambition to represent Wales in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I wanted to show I’m in a league above anyone else,” said Davies. “It’s overwhelming.” However, not everything ended in such success for the British team. In the 100m T36, the bespectacled Graeme Ballard finished fourth and Paul Blake sixth behind the winner Yifei Yang of China. In the T38 1500m final, Jack Gladman 20, finished ninth in what was his major championship debut. Lost in the pack, the boyish 20-year-old was well behind the winner, world record holder Deon Kenzie of Australia.
“My laces came undone and it turned from my dream race into a nightmare,” he said. Meanwhile in the T20 800m for those with intellectual impairment, Steve Morris finished fifth, after leading for much of the way and James Hamilton sixth.
At the double: Sophie Hahn celebrates breaking her own world record in the T38 100m final, right, while Georgina Hermitage crosses the line to take first place in the T37 100m, left