Image: British Athletics

Hannah Cockroft (coach: Paul Moseley, club: Leeds) sealed world title number 15 – and her seventh career T34 100m title – on the fifth day of competition at the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan.

Fabienne Andre (Richard Chiassaro, Harlow) was fourth in the T34 100m behind Cockroft, while Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) competed well for a fourth-place finish in the women’s T54 1500m final during the morning session; her highest ever placing at global level. There was also swift progress for Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins, Kirkby) into Wednesday morning’s men’s T54 1500m final.

Cockroft was in majestic form as she won the short sprint title for the seventh consecutive time, her first coming in Christchurch in 2011. At Kobe2024, the Yorkshire woman looked as determined as ever as she lined up in the final having already revised her Championship record during the morning’s heats.

Contesting the final in cooler temperatures than the heats on Tuesday morning, Cockroft got a powerful start which gave her a significant lead in the first half of the race. With the young Chinese athlete Lan Hanyu hot on her tail, Cockroft was made to work as she pushed onto a scintillating seventh 100m title in a time of 16.89 (0.9) to Hanyu’s 18.95.

Andre also lined up in the final, and a slight deviation by Joyce Lefevre (BEL) – who was later disqualified – into her lane at the gun impaired Andre in the first few pushes but she fought strongly to get back into the contest. With Cockroft and Hanyu away, the Briton was involved in a battle with home favourite Moe Onodera (JPN) for the bronze medal, but it was the Japanese who would take it in 19.15 to Andre’s 19.42.

Speaking post-race, a delighted and relieved Cockroft said, “Number seven – that sounds amazing. Every title at this point is a relief. I watch my teammates and see the excitement and the happiness, and I want to respond like that but when I cross that line it is a sigh of relief because I am the one with the target on my back.

“I’m the one that everyone is watching. In call room, everything I did, I felt every set of eyes on me. I was the only one who wore a jacket in call this morning and then tonight, everyone had one on. The 100m is the hard one, so I am delighted to win the title, and I am looking forward to the 800m and relay now.

“Coming to this world championship was all about seeing all these new girls who are coming through. I knew they’d be around for the Paris Paralympic Games, so for me it was about grabbing the opportunity to see where they were at, and I can see there is a lot of talent. I think over the next few years I am going to have some battles on my hands. But hopefully right now I’ve sent a message that I am pushing strong, and I am still on top.

“I’ve got the 800m heats on Thursday which I’m really excited for. We’ve never had heats for the event at a worlds before so that is very exciting and shows the amount of girls coming through. We are missing my teammate Kare Adenegan, and the Americans, so the numbers are growing in the event. And then I have the relay which is a big challenge, and I really want to do the team proud.”

Andre added, “I just wanted to give my everything in the final. It was a bit messy in my opinion, particularly the start. It is really good to get my competition underway and hopefully I have two more races with the 800m later in the week. The experience is key for me. We don’t often have heats and finals in the same day, but it is great to see so many T34s coming through, it makes the class really competitive. It makes me want to work harder and perfect things.”

Cockroft had blasted her way to a Championship record of 16.67 (1.5) in the heats, some feat considering her six previous world titles over the distance since 2011. The multiple global medallist looked serene from the start, pushing her way to her fastest ever time at a World Para Athletics Championships and earning the race win to go alongside it.

Andre moved through the tougher of the two heats, finishing second behind China’s Lan Hanyu in 19.23 (2.1) to book her slot in her second world 100m final.

In a high-quality contest during the morning session, Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) was narrowly fourth in the women’s T54 1500m. The Scottish athlete was aggressive from the early stages, sitting in behind long-time race leader Tian Yajuan (CHN) and making her presence felt as the whole field stayed bunched for most of the race.

With Woods slightly boxed in lane one behind Yajuan, all she could do with 200m to go was attach herself to her wheel and follow, but a fast-finishing Zhou Zhaoqian (CHN) overtook her compatriot for the gold, and Germany’s Merle Marie Menje just held off the valiant fight of the Briton to sneak the bronze by just 0.15s, Woods clocking 3:34.34.

After competing in wet and wild conditions in the 800m on Sunday evening, Woods faced warmer climes for the 1500m final, and a vocal crowd including thousands of school children created a cacophony of noise for all the athletes.

Afterwards, Woods reflected on her fourth-place finish saying, “My plan was to go out, stick with the pace, and be patient, so I feel like I did that so I have to be proud of that. There are some really strong girls in that race, and I was just trying to hold on and see what I could do in the end. I did what I could, so I am happy with that.

“At 200m, there was not really anywhere to go, so I just had to give it what I could. I could see the others coming around the outside and there isn’t much you could do than stay as close as you can.”

Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins, Kirkby) comfortably advanced to the men’s T54 1500m final after the morning’s qualification rounds.

Fresh from a sixth place in the 400m final on Monday, Maguire was first up on Tuesday morning with his eyes set on a top four place to automatically move into Wednesday’s final. After 500m, he looked well on target to that goal as the field split with the top four opening a significant margin over the other three athletes in the race.

As China’s Jin Hua made a breakaway to target a rapid time, Maguire, Tomoki Suzuki (JPN) and Phiphatphong Sianglam (THA) consolidated the big Q with strong pushes behind. The Chinese would break the Championship record with a time of 2:48.52 ahead of the Briton who came through in 2:54.70.

He said afterwards, “I’m happy with that. I saw the Chinese guy go off pretty much straight away, and if it had been a final, I would have gone round and chased him, but in the heat all we had to do was top four, so I’m quite happy with second. I put a little sprint in to see what the other lads had.”

The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally

Gold (4): Hollie Arnold [F46 Javelin], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [T64 High Jump], Hannah Cockorft [T34 100m], Sabrina Fortune [F20 Shot Put]

Silver (1): Thomas Young [T38 100m]

Bronze (1): Zac Shaw [T12 100m]