The British team finished the second World Para Athletics Junior Championships on a high as Zien Zhou (coach: Job King; club: Coventry Godiva) won his second gold medal of the week, Matt Cooper (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) added his third medal to his collection as did Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy), winning silver in the U20 women’s T54 800m.
For Zhou, having won the T33-34 100m narrowly ahead of Cooper on Friday, he showed his class over 200m, getting an exceptional start around the bend and holding his form to claim the under-20 title. He looked supreme in the mid-morning sun, and his time reflected that, as he set a second personal best of the week, 30.24 (+0.7).
A delighted Zhou spoke post-race: “It is lovely to round off the Championships how we started them, with a gold medal. It will be great to be on top of the podium again; I’ll try not to cry this time.
“Congrats to Matt on another medal, he has had a great event. It shows that Britain is really strong in this department, so we have a bright future.”
Zhou added: “I’d like to thank everyone at British Athletics for having the confidence to select me. It has been such an honour to represent my country at these championships. I’d also like to thank my coach Job King; although he’s not here in Nottwil, he’s been contacting me throughout the championships. He told me to be relaxed and in doing so, I had one of my best races I can remember.”
For Cooper, he has enjoyed a breakthrough week on the world junior stage, claiming three medals – two bronze and a silver medal. His bronze in the 200m was hard-fought, moving away from the UAE athlete Abdulaziez Alkindi to secure his spot on the podium once more.
After finishing in a time 31.73, he commented: “The race itself wasn’t my best but to win three medals this week is way beyond what I thought I would achieve. I’m extremely happy with how the week has gone but it has given me some ideas of what to work on.”
“Bends are one of my weak points – I’m a faster athlete over the 100m but I think I just need to work on general strength and technique; that will be a really big thing for me.”
On the week in Nottwil, he summarised: “The Championships has been the most amazing experience I’ve had in the sport. I came out here to make my club proud. Being part of Weir Archer is all about continuing the Dave’s [Weir] legacy so I think I will have made him proud.”
Completing his set of events, Ben Callander (Peter Wyman; Kirby) was sixth clocking 36.79.
Rainbow-Cooper continued her excellent championship, winning her third silver medal this time in the 800m, just two years after she missed out on the podium places at these championships. She called her first medal ‘redemption’, but the 800m medal was the one she truly wanted.
She started well, sitting in behind the Swiss athlete Licia Mussinelli over the first 250m. However, the 400m champion Hannah Dederick (USA) made a move 300 metres in, which sparked the contest. The Briton moved into lane three to go passed the duo down the back straight, and although she won the battle for the inside line around the final bend, the American excelled in the final 120 metres, taking the title while Rainbow-Cooper sealed another superb silver, recording a time of 2:04.75.
She said afterwards: “My game plan didn’t quite go as expected; it changed one or two times during the race. But I did what I thought was right. My original plan was to be in the lead from the first lap, not to have to sprint from it. So, when she [Dederick] went passed me, I knew if I didn’t get in front, I wasn’t going to get any more than bronze. So, I needed to get in front and get what I could.”
On her triple medal haul, she added: “I like the sound of winning three medals. The 800m was the one I came closest in last time and was the one I was most disappointed with. Those championships  are far away now, this is what I want to leave behind this time.”
In the midday heat, Prince Reid (David Liston; Blackheath & Bromley) ran solidly to win his first world bronze medal in the U20 men’s T20 1500m. After placing fifth in the 400m earlier in the week, he started strongly in the 1500m event, going out hard in the opening exchanges but after frontrunning the first 400m, the Turkish athlete, Oguz Turker – and the eventual champion – accelerated into the lead, leaving the Briton and Canadian Michael Barber to fight out for silver.
Barber moved away from Reid with 700m to go, so it was an isolated run in for the Briton, but he held his composure to win the bronze medal in a time of 4:37.05.
He commented after: “The sun was shining, it is such a difference as I ran in the rain the other day. I am so happy to cross that line; my main aim coming here was to make sure I crossed that line. I’m proud to come here and represent Great Britain and make my family proud.
“I started hard and I finished hard. I’m proud of how far I have come since I was a little kid starting out in the sport. To win a bronze medal means so much to me and I can’t wait to get on the podium.”
Molly Hopkins (Morgan Jones; DSW Para Academy) [T62] ran as part of a European Select universal relay team, taking on the second leg. Running alongside members of other countries, Hopkins’ team placed second in the non-medal event.
Team Leader, Sarah Benson, at the end of the Championships said:
“I am really happy with how this team have performed on the track and in the field, and also how they have bonded and supported each other as a group during these Championships. This event is a key part of their development in the Paralympic Pathway, and a great opportunity to experience a championship environment and what it means to be on a British team, to prepare them for senior level.
“I am delighted that the team has won 17 medals, and I am proud that they have achieved 24 top eight places and seven PBs altogether. The standard of Para Athletics at junior level is improving rapidly which is fantastic for the sport. With more countries attending, and bringing bigger teams, our athletes have had to bring their best this week. So, it has been a key learning opportunity for everyone involved.”
The British medallists (17):
Karim Chan – U20 Women’s T20 long jump
Barney Corrall – U20 Men’s T35-38 long jump
Zien Zhou – U20 Men’s T33-34 100m and 200m
Matt Cooper – U20 Men’s T33-34 100m
Abbie McNally – U20 Women’s T35-38 100m and 200m
Eden Rainbow-Cooper – U20 Women’s T54 400m, 800m and 1500m
Kirsty Taylor – U20 Women’s T44-64 100m and 200m
Zien Zhou – U20 Men’s T33-34 400m
Matt Cooper – U20 Men’s T33-34 200m and 400m
Ethan Kirby – U20 Men’s T20 400m
Prince Reid – U20 Men’s T20 1500m
The World Para Athletics Junior Championships results are here: https://www.nottwil2019.ch/en/start_list_results/