It was a superb Sunday for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Para Athletics Championships as Aled Davies (coach: Ryan Spencer-Jones; club: Cardiff) and Maria Lyle (Jamie Bowie; Team East Lothian) sealed gold medals, while Andrew Small (Rick Hoskins; Stockport) and Harri Jenkins (Anthony Hughes; DSW Para Academy) reached the podium, to add to three medals from the morning session in Dubai.
Following a gold and a world record of 16.77s from Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks; Leeds) in the T34 100m, a silver for Kare Adenegan (Job King; Coventry) and bronze for Kyron Duke in the F41 shot put, four further medals were added during the cooler evening session at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.
Aled Davies won his fourth consecutive world shot put title after a solid throw of 15.38 metres in round four. Competing in the F63 event, Davies was in second place until his fourth attempt, Luxembourg’s Tom Habscheid throwing a best of 15.10m to previously hold the lead. However, the Briton never looked back and secured world title number seven.
After Davies captured the world record in 2017 in a stunning competition in London, the Welshman brought the entertainment to Dubai, and when victory was confirmed, his celebration was a burst of emotion.
Speaking afterwards, with his seven-week old daughter Phoebe in his arms, he said:
“This was the toughest one yet [world title] and me and my coach (Ryan Spencer-Jones). We knew things haven’t been clicking, they haven’t been coming together and this was the hardest competition of my life. There’s been so many things that have happened, and we just wanted to come here and do my best. All Ryan wanted me to do was come here and fight for it. Tom (Habscheid) put on one heck of a show. He came out and broke a world record and personal best, so he really took it to me, and it was definitely very tough, and I was lucky to hang on by a thread in the end!”
On title number four in the shot put, he added: “Fourth time – it’s very special – I think back to my first world champs in New Zealand in 2011 and I got fourth place at the age of 18, and now here we are, almost ten years later and we’re still on top of the world taking world records and winning gold medals. I’ve been dreaming too hard and too long to roll over and hand over titles. I had to fight for this one – I really did I dug deep and luckily I hung on by the skin of my teeth.”
On fatherhood, he commented: “It’s the only motivation you need. I don’t do this for me now – I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to achieve. Golds at every tournament and world records, so if I can keep on dominating as long as possible and show that beautiful little girl how it is done then that’s great.”
Kicking off the session for GB & NI, there was joy for Maria Lyle as she won her first individual world title, sprinting to gold in the women’s T35 100m final.
The reigning European champion went into the race as the favourite based on personal bests and seasons best and the Team East Lothian athlete showed her quality by clocking 14.62 (+0.5) to take home the gold. Reacting well to the starting gun, she recovered from a stumble to charge away from her opponents with Italy’s Oxana Corso and Netherland’s Nienke Timmer taking the silver and bronze respectively.
Lyle, now a six-time world medallist, said afterwards: “I’m feeling happy, it’s been a long time coming. It’s my third world champs so it’s very special to finally get that title. I got a good reaction, but I stumbled close to the start so at the end or most of the race I was trying to recover from that.
“To do that time considering the conditions, it fills me with confidence so I’m looking forward to the 200m now. It’s very special (a world title). It’s something I’ve never had before so to do it here when we’ve had the team achieving so much is special and it’s really important to me.”
Lyle, who picked up her medal later in the evening, added: “Obviously I’ve had it [moment on top of the podium] at European level but to have it at world level is something I’ve never experienced before as an individual, so it’s a really important time for my athletics career, so I’m very happy.”
There was a double medal haul in the men’s T33 100m as Andrew Small (Rick Hoskins; Stockport) and Harri Jenkins (Anthony Hughes; DSW Para Academy) sealed silver and bronze respectively.
Small, the Paralympic bronze medallist, went one better than his bronze in London, sealing the silver in a time of 17.71s (0.0) after a very efficient display.
He said shortly after his race: “It’s unbelievable I still can’t believe it. I thought I could make the jump, but to make the jump is brilliant. And to have the opportunity once again to represent such a great country, words cannot describe it.
“I’m so glad for Harri, his first games, his first medal, he must be chuffed to bits. And it just shows solidarity and especially within the country it’s really challenging, and we’ll see if we can push that more next year.”
For Jenkins, the European champion, it was a breakthrough performance on the global stage, pushing well to a time of 18.98s to grab the bronze medal, while the gold went to Ahmad Almutairi (KUW).
He said: “It was really good. Obviously happy with the bronze. As I said before, it was going on form – I was going in third ranked in the race, but I just know I’m capable of so much more.
“I know I can do this, I know I can get there, I should be pushing with them guys, they shouldn’t be beating me like that, but I’ll get there next year, I’ll get there.”
After strong headwinds in the long jump during the previous evening, the wind dropped during the men’s T63 final as Luke Sinnott (Roger Keller; Bournemouth) claimed fifth position after a jump of 5.57 metres with his first attempt. One more legal jump of 5.05m followed as he confirmed a second consecutive top five position on the world stage.
On his return to the British team fold for the first time since 2014, Ola Abidogun (Grant Barker; Horwich) swiftly moved into Tuesday’s T47 100m semi-finals. Quick out of the blocks, the 2012 Paralympic silver medallist ran a controlled race to post a time of 11.12s (+0.8) for third position which saw him automatically progress.
British Athletics Medal Tally (11):
Paul Blake – T36 800m
Hannah Cockroft – T34 100m
Aled Davies – F63 Shot Put
Maria Lyle – T35 100m
Kare Adenegan – T34 100m
Derek Rae – T46 Marathon*
Andrew Small – T33 100m
Olivia Breen – T38 Long Jump
Kyron Duke – F41 Shot Put
Harri Jenkins – T33 100m
Sammi Kinghorn – T53 100m
*The WPA Championship marathons took place at the London Marathon earlier this year.