Aled Davies (club: Cardiff; coach: Ryan Spencer Jones) made history once more as he secured the ‘triple double’ on the final day of the 2018 WPA European Championships in Berlin, Germany, while Thomas Young (Charnwood, Joe McDonnell) and the universal 4x100m relay team also added gold on the final day of action.
Davies set a new Championship record to claim gold in the men’s F63 shot put; one of three British athletes to claim European title on Sunday to take their final medal tally to 50 medals, including 20 gold, across the seven days of competition.
The Welshman’s gold in the shot put saw the 27-year-old complete the shot put and discus double for the third successive European Championships after he won gold in the discus on Thursday.
Despite breaking his throwing leg brace in the warm-up, Davies led from start to finish in the shot put final, breaking the Championship record twice in the process. He threw 14.96m in the second round, before extending his winning margin even further, with a final round throw of 15.49m to seal the 13th major title of his career, despite his leg brace being heavily taped up for his last three throws.
After securing another European title, he said: “If you listed down everything that could go down in four years, they all happened in the space of six months. This year has definitely been tough. I didn’t want to just hand over the titles, I wanted to come here and give everything I have got and that’s what I did. It has taken a lot, it’s probably two of the hardest golds I have ever had to fight for.
“When my leg brace snapped I thought ‘you have got to be kidding me?’. I got my tape out and I thought it’s not out of reach of these guys yet, so I am going to have to keep battling on, hopping around. I gave it everything I had, it was just raw aggression that got through in the end.”
There was also double joy for Thomas Young, who claimed his second European title in less than 24 hours. The 18-year-old stopped the clock in a time of 11.66 (wind: -1.5m/s) to add the T38 100m European title to the gold he won in the 200m yesterday afternoon.
Reflecting on his memorable first senior Championships, Young said: “It’s unbelievable. Before I came here, I really wanted the double, but I knew it was going to be hard work, so I had to train really hard and I have achieved what I wanted to at my debut Championships. It will probably take a few days for it all to sink in.”
Kyle Keyworth (Manchester Harriers; Kes Salmon) finished sixth in another personal best time of 13.10; his second PB in as many days after setting a lifetime best in the 200m on Saturday.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s 20th and final gold medal of the Championships came in the last action on the track as the Universal 4x100m relay team broke the national and world record to take victory.
Zac Shaw (T12; Cleethorpes) got the team off to a quick start before Laura Sugar (T44; Birchfield Harriers; Joe McDonnell) and Sophie Hahn (T38; Charnwood; Joe McDonnell) put GB & NI in a strong position heading onto the final leg. Nathan Maguire (T54; Halton & Frodsham; Ste Hoskins) brought the team home in a time of 48.73, a world record mark.
Afterwards, Hahn added: “I knew the French girl was in the lead, so I was like ‘you’re not having this’. We have got such a strong team, we have got lots of young talent, and it is very exciting for Tokyo because we have got such a big and such a strong and team.”
Maguire also assessed: “I knew Sophie was going to come in first – I had faith in her – so when she came through I thought ‘that’s going to set us up and I am going to power it home’ and I just wanted to bring it home for these guys who had already done their bit. I thought we were going to get it and we did, so it is great.”
Ben Rowlings (Coventry; Ian Mirfin) came close to adding another gold medal to Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s tally in a very close and tactical men’s T34 800m final. Rowlings – who also won silver in the T34 400m earlier in the week – finished just over half a second behind gold medallist Henry Manni of Finland to claim his second silver medal of the Championships.
The difference between Isaac Towers (Blackpool Wyre & Fylde; Peter Wyman/Jenni Banks) and a medal was even closer. Towers – who missed out on a medal in the T34 400m by just one hundredth of a second – finished fourth again on Sunday, just 0.17 seconds away from bronze.
Reflecting on his two European silver medals, Rowlings said: “No one likes finishing second, but two silver medals is a big step up from what I have done before, so I can only be happy with it. It’s a building block going into the next few years.”
World T64 long jump champion Stef Reid (Charnwood; Aston Moore) added another major medal to her impressive haul, securing bronze in the women’s T64 long jump with a best jump of 5.49m.
The 33-year-old put together a consistent series across the six rounds, finishing 12cm behind silver medallist Marlene van Gansewinkel of the Netherlands. Gold went to France’s Marie-Amelie Le Fur who produced a world record leap of 6.01m.
Reid said: “It’s great to come away with hardware, it is a special thing and you should never discount it and you should always be grateful because often in these events there are just seconds or centimetres between having something and having not. Sport is tough, there are very fine lines and I think you should celebrate every time you do get something.
“It was a historic moment; Marie-Amelie [Le Fur, France] set a fantastic world record so I am really happy for her, but I really wanted it to be me. We still have a lot of work to do so you have got to recognise that and take notes and see what they are doing and then you go back and make a plan ready for next year.”
In the men’s T35 200m, Jordan Howe (DSW Para Academy; Christian Malcolm) gave everything he had to try and deny Ukraine’s Ihor Tsvietov a sprint double following Tsvietov’s victory in the T35 100m.
The 22-year-old pushed the Ukrainian all the way to the line in the 200m final, but Tsvietov had too much for the British athlete in the final 50m. As there were only two athletes in the final, only the gold was on offer, with Howe recording a time of 27.04 (+0.6 m/s).
Howe said: “200 metres is not my event, so it was always going to be hard for myself. It was a good result, it was a good run. I thought I ran the first 100m OK, I tried to execute it on the bend a bit differently, but it was an OK run.”
Dillon Labrooy (Weir Archer Academy; Jenny Archer) ended his first senior Championships with another respectable placing after finishing fifth in the men’s T54 1500m final in a time of 3:25.19.
Labrooy, who won bronze in the T54 400m on Wednesday, said: “I think this was probably my best race of the Championships. I feel really proud of my performances at the Championships. I was really excited just to be able to come here in the first place. Winning a medal was a bonus because I didn’t expect to come here and medal, I just wanted to try and do my best.”
Five medals on the final day of competition saw Great Britain and Northern Ireland end the World Para Athletics European Championships with 50 medals – 20 gold, 14 silver and 16 bronze – placing them second on the final medal table.
Para Athletics Head Coach, Paula Dunn, added: “This has been a very encouraging championship where we have seen new faces on the British team step up and produce some breakthrough performances, be it a medal or achieving a season best or personal best on this stage. I look forward to seeing their progress over the next few years, and what they can take away from this championship and improve upon. We’ve also seen several of our experienced team members come out and deliver solid performances, and act as mentors for the new members of the team which has been great to see.
“50 medals, 20 of which were gold, and finishing second on the medal table is a good marker but we know this is all part of the process as we build towards the Tokyo Paralympics Games. With just under two years to go, the team is in a strong place, but we can learn a lot from these championships as we build towards the Worlds in Dubai next year.”
Full results: https://www.paralympic.org/berlin-2018