10 Sep 2016
Four Loughborough athletes win gold on day two at the Paralympic Games
Loughborough athletes made history on day two of the Paralympic Games as they won four gold and two silver medals.
Reigning T44 100m champion Jonnie Peacock was one of the main talking points having endured a mixed four years since he thrilled the British public at London 2012.
Known to bring his A-game to the big occasion, the Loughborough based blade runner left the field in his wake as he stopped the clock in 10.81 to win his second Paralympic gold. That time equalled the Paralympic record he set in the heats as he was the only man to go sub 11.
“It’s times like this where you have to look back on your experience as an athlete. There’s so much pressure and it’s so easy to get distracted. I got to 40m, there was a point where I started to get distracted, but I pulled myself back into the race and I just kept pushing and that’s when I pulled away.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been involved supporting me, there’s too many to name. Nothing’s ever going to beat London for the achievement, but as a sporting achievement this was so much greater for me. The talent that was in this class today was unbelievable. Paralympic sport is progressing so much at the minute.”
Libby Clegg swept aside the drama of earlier in the day to take gold in the T11 100m alongside guide Chris Clarke.
The Loughborough based pair set a new world record of 11.91 in the semi-finals earlier in the day at Rio’s Olympic Stadium before being disqualified on the basis she had been illegally pulled by her guide. But an appeal was successful and the reinstated Clegg and Clarke were back on form in the final, clocking 11.96 to take the gold medal ahead of China’s Zhou Guohua, winning by just two hundredths of a second.
It is a third Paralympic medal for Clegg after consecutive silvers at Beijing and London in the T12 category.
“It’s not really hit me just yet - I’m over the moon! We ran a pretty similar time to the semi-final so I’m pleased with that. “These things [the events earlier in the day] happen and you’ve just got to get on with it really and hope for the best.
“I’ve got an amazing team behind me. My training group are there day in day out and obviously there's Chris as well. He has been fantastic. I had a change of guides back in November and then Chris and I started working together in February. It’s been a quick process.”
Sophie Hahn was the third sprinter of the day to win gold, taking victory in T37 100m and equalling the Paralympic record. Her 12.62 winning run completes a full set of major international titles at the age of just 19.
“I’m delighted, I never imagined being Paralympic champion, it’s amazing. Four years ago I was on holiday glued to the TV watching the Paralympic Games every day and now I’m a Paralympic Champion.”
Earlier in the day Stef Reid replicated her achievements at London 2012 by winning F44 long jump silver. Her best effort came in the first round as she leapt to 5.64m, but she couldn’t stop France’s Marie-Amelie le Fur as she set a new world record of 5.83m to win the title.
“Marie jumped further than I’ve ever jumped. Hats off to her, I’m just really pleased at the way our event has progressed. I think I did some really great things in terms of my jumping and I’m just so thankful to my coach and to the team around me who have got me here. I’m proud of what I did. I didn’t realise I was the first athletics medal for ParalympicsGB in Rio. It’s great to get us off to a great start.”
The final gold medal of the day came from Reid’s husband Brent Lakatos, the Canadian wheelchair racer powering to T53 100m gold, his first Paralympic title after three silvers in London.
In the Powerlifting finals Ali Jawad, another Loughborough based athlete, put in a brilliant performance to win silver in the men’s -59kg category. Jawad, who trains in Loughborough’s Powerbase gym on a daily basis, produced a best lift of 190kg to secure his silver medal behind Egypt’s Sherif Osman who broke the Paralympic record with his 203kg effort.
"I'm a bit shocked right now - it's taken four years and after what happened in London this feels like a gold medal and I think I've finally laid those ghosts to bed. Sherif Osman is like the Usain Bolt of powerlifting so coming second to one of the greatest powerlifters ever isn't so bad!"
Elsewhere, the ParalympicsGB wheelchair basketballers bounced back from defeat yesterday to thrash Argentina 79-20. Current Loughborough University student Amy Conroy was one of the standout players, the youngster scoring a number of baskets. Graduate Jude Hamer was a late addition in the fourth quarter but did a great job of tightening up the defensive plays, whilst fellow alumnae Claire Griffiths and Laurie Williams both made an impact. The girls are back in action at 3.45pm on Saturday.