Hannah Cockroft (coach: Jenni Banks) completed a clean-sweep of world records in the T34 events, after lowering the 1500m best with a scintillating performance in Nottwil on the second day of the World Para Athletics Grand Prix.
In her first 1500m race since 2014, Cockroft pushed magnificently to lower Mel Nicholls’ former world record (4:01.79) to 3:50.22. With only fellow Briton Paige Murray (Job King) in the race, it was almost a solo effort by the ‘Hurricane’ as she sealed the set of world records from 100m upwards.
Also a winner in the earlier 100m in a rapid time of 17.40 (0.6), Cockroft commented on the 1500m:
“That’s too far! Mel’s time has stood for a long time and we knew I’d worked on a lot of distance in training, so it would be a good test of my fitness. The thought was that if I could hold a good speed over 1500m, I can hold an even better speed over 800m. So it is nice to hold the full set (of world records).
“I was holding a good speed all the way around and it was pretty consistent so it has given me a confidence boost heading back to the 800m. Maybe I can push a little harder in that now.”
After breaking his own world record in the T42 200m yesterday, Richard Whitehead (Keith Antoine) was close to another one in the T42 100m, but he was just 0.06 second outside the mark with a time of 12.17 (0.6). His current best stands at 12.13 which he set in Leverkusen last year, so to be running these times at the beginning of June has given him a great deal of confidence heading into the final block of training before the World Para Athletics Championships.
After encouraging displays in the 200m and 800m on Friday, Richard Chiassaro (Banks) returned to the track with intent, and took a significant chunk off his previous T54 1500m time; recording 2:52.11 which was also his first ever European record. This revised his best by a superb seven seconds, and coming just a week after his first sub three minute 1500m.
Despite technical issues in the original race meaning it had to be rerun just over an hour later, it did not seem to faze the athletes. After working well with eventual winner Brent Lakatos (T53), Chiassaro commented upon his personal best in the 1500m:
“Yes I’m well happy with that. I wasn’t expecting to come out again and do that time – it is now two or three second below the world record. When the world records are set, people work together so it’s nice to be able to work with each other to achieve this. I can’t draft like that in the UK so that was a good learning experience and to be able to pull for 600m is a positive sign.”
On the work and support of his coach Jenni Banks:
“She does more than just coaching us; she helps us out with absolutely everything. I owe everything to her. She has always believed in me, so now I am just repaying her on the track.”
There was a fierce battle between Toby Gold (Banks) and Andy Small (Rick Hoskins) in the T33 100m. In a repeat of the Paralympic Games final, Gold prevailed in second place but it was one of the closest contests between these two athletes. Gold edged in with a time of 17.17 (0.9), whilst Small pushed to a lifetime best of 17.23 to continue a positive meeting in Nottwil for the Stockport Harrier.
In the T34 100m, Craig Boardman (Paul Smith) was narrowly outside his personal best recording 15.75 (0.6), to be the highest ranked Briton across the two heats, placing sixth overall.
The T34 1500m is a rarely covered racing distance for Ben Rowlings (Job King), but he pushed well again to a 13:16.70 clocking. After going 13:13 in Arbon last week, the Coventry athlete had eyes on pushing that time even further down. However, despite pushing Walid Ktila in the early exchanges, the Tunisian just had enough to pull away in the closing stages to leave the Briton to settle for second place.
Elsewhere, Mickey Bushell (Jenny Archer) was fourth in the first heat of the T53 100m in 14.92 (0.4) whilst Callum Hall (Ian Thompson) won his heat in 17.39 (0.3); not too far outside his personal best.
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