Sammi Kinghorn (coach: Ian Mirfin; club: Red Star) added to Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s medal tally on day two of the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai with bronze in the women’s T53 100m.
Defending champion Kinghorn took bronze in 16.64s (1.1) following a year she admits has been ‘tough’ due to undergoing an operation mid-season.
Kinghorn started well in lane five, similarly to the previous night’s heats, but the Chinese duo of Fang Gao and Hongzhuan Zhou pushed well to claim gold and silver respectively – Gao setting a Championship record in the process – while Kinghorn claimed the third world medal of her young career.
Afterwards, she said: “I’m so happy with the bronze. Obviously, it’s tough when you come in as the defending champion but after the year I have had, I am so pleased to make it onto the podium. My family will agree. This year has been really tough, so I was honestly thinking I’d be top five but to win a bronze is great. I’ll be ready to fight for a higher medal in Tokyo.”
On the race, she said: “I got a much better start than last night but I kind of slipped a few times. I sort of panicked. But that’s fine – if I came off the track saying everything was perfect, I’d be pretty worried. Even coming away with a world bronze, I know I can do even better.
“It gives me so much confidence for next year because I know I can go a lot faster than that. There’s going to be a tough training block ahead, but I’m now focused to be on that podium.”
Meanwhile, in the field, Lydia Church (Jim Edwards; Peterborough and Nene Valley) looked composed throughout the women’s F12 shot put, earning a top seven position with the furthest throw of the competition measured at 11.25m.
Church, on her senior British debut, started well, settling with a throw of 11.10m, before throwing a mark of 11.25 metres in round two.
As one of four debutants in the squad, the visually impaired athlete commented on the experience:
“I’m really happy with the competition and the way it went. I just built upon what I did on the first throw and tried to stay relaxed out there.
“It’s amazing to finally be able to where the kit and be a part of the Great Britain team. It’s been so cool being out there because I’ve grown up watching some of these people and just to be a part of it has been amazing. It’s been so good having people there that you can talk to in the team.”
Speaking on how she prepared for the Championships, she said: “We’ve had to make sure that we’ve trained around the timings of the competition and this comp as a whole is quite late in the season. I’ve just got to keep working hard towards Tokyo and see if I can get there.”
Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks; Harlow) qualified with aplomb for the men’s T54 800m final following an efficient display in heat two, placing second behind the multiple world champion Marcel Hug (SUI) to progress automatically. He comfortably held off the rest of the field in the closing stages to set up a blockbuster final on Saturday evening which will include America’s Daniel Romanchuk who is the current world record holder.
Chiassaro commented: “I went out with the intention of getting on the back of Marcel (Hug), and it turned out that he got a better start than me. It was only top two that were going through, so I knew he was going to be up there. It was all about being clever today.”
On Saturday’s medal race, he added: “I don’t think it is going to be fast at all, but positioning is going to be key.”
By just 0.03s, Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins; Kirkby) narrowly missed out on a place in the final but he fought well against a strong field in heat three.
Maguire – who won four medals at the European Championships last year – pushed well and looked to have secured his place in the final as a bunch of four approached the line but the fast finishing pair of Putharet Khongrak (THA) and Yassine Gharbi (TUN) overhauled the Briton in the last few metres. His time of 1:37.72 was not enough for a fastest non-auto qualifying spot.
Earlier in the session, it was a case of two from two as Ben Rowlings (Ian Mirfin; Coventry) and Isaac Towers (Peter Wyman; Kirkby) qualified for the men’s T34 400m final on Saturday.
With only three going through automatically, Rowlings – the 2018 European 400m silver medallist – had a nervous wait to see if he had advanced after finishing fourth in the first of two heats, but his time of 53.71s saw him move into the final qualifying spot.
For Towers, he similarly crossed the line in fourth position after a time of 53.54s in heat two, and he was seventh fastest overall so will be back in action on day three.
The Kirkby athlete said post-race: “I had a good start but the headwind down the back straight just killed me off a bit. I’ve done what I needed to do to get into the final, I just would have liked to have had a quicker time but there you go.”
British Athletics Medal Tally (3):
Paul Blake – T36 800m
Derek Rae – T46 Marathon*
Sammi Kinghorn – T53 100m
*The WPA Championship marathons took place at the London Marathon earlier this year.