The 2016 Paralympic Games drew to a close along the iconic Copacabana beach with mixed fortunes for ParalympicsGB athletes in the T54 & T46 marathons.
Simon Lawson (coach: Ian Thompson) finished 14th in sweltering conditions in the T54 marathon. On his Paralympics debut, he started well passing the half way mark in 45.01. He held on to the position for the majority of the race, crossing the line in a time of 1:32.15.
Lawson said afterwards: “It was an amazing experience obviously to race in a Paralympic marathon along Copacabana beach. I’m a little disappointed with the outcome though unfortunately. You try things out in training and nothing goes wrong for months but sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
“The tight turn arounds weren’t as difficult as I imagined and the surface was nice and smooth so it was a good course overall.”
After a collision after the 5km check point, sadly David Weir (Jenny Archer) had to withdraw from the race. He had started well and was in contention with the group at that point, however, a crash with another athlete called an end to his Paralympic Games career.
The six-time Paralympic champion commented: “Everything felt good to be honest – I know they (leading two) made a gap but I thought we would close it down. I just needed a breather at the back and then I was going to push on. I just clipped someone’s glove and that throws you front wheel up and I just went over. Once I got up, I started pushing again ‘toe in, toe out’ but my wheels had gone so there was no point. It’s just one of those things, what can I do? My shoulder is a bit sore where I fell on it but that’s just racing.”
In tough mid-morning conditions, the whole of the T46 field found the going tough and sadly Paralympic Games debutant Derek Rae (Ron Morrison) had to drop out just before the 30km mark. He had been working through the field nicely, clocking well-paced splits, through 10km in 38.07 and half way at 1:20.45. He pushed up to fourth at the 25km as a couple of opponents dropped out. However, the same fate unfortunately befell the Briton in the second half of the contest.
The ParalympicsGB athletics team finished on 33 medals overall, 15 of which were gold which exceeded the tallies from London 2012.
Head Coach Paula Dunn spoke on the successful Games, saying: “The team has enjoyed a really successful Paralympics Games. We have exceeded the medal target set by UK Sport of 28-32 medals and 10-12 golds, which underlines the strength in depth we have in the system at the moment. Our team has been responsible for nine world records, 16 Paralympic records and 20 personal bests and that really illustrates how strong we have been as a group out in Rio.
“There have been a number of young athletes that have stepped up and delivered at their first Paralympic Games, complemented by the likes of Aled Davies, Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft, Paul Blake and Richard Whitehead, who have once again all delivered gold on the biggest stage.
“I am really proud to have led the team on this journey and we look forward to returning to the Olympic Stadium for the World ParaAthletics Championships in London next year. Nothing can quite beat competing in front of a home crowd and I’m sure we will see more standout performances from the British athletes just like we did four years ago.
“It’s been an unforgettable Games and Rio and the Brazilian public have really embraced Paralympic sport, which will hopefully act as a real legacy moving forwards.
“All the team would like to thank everyone back in the UK for their unwavering support and also the National Lottery players, you make these moments possible, so thank you.”
ParalympicsGB Athletics medal tally: (33)
Hollie Arnold – F46 Javelin
Paul Blake – T36 400m
Jo Butterfield – F51 Club Throw
Libby Clegg & Chris Clarke – T11 100m and 200m
Kadeena Cox – T38 400m
Hannah Cockroft – T34 100m, 400m and 800m
Aled Davies – F42 Shot Put
Sophie Hahn – T38 100m
Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m and 400m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
Richard Whitehead – T42 200m
Kare Adenegan – T34 100m
Paul Blake – T36 800m
Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T44 High Jump
Toby Gold – T33 100m
Stef Reid – T44 long jump
Richard Whitehead – T42 100m
Women’s T35-38 4x100m relay – (Kadeena Cox, Maria Lyle, Georgie Hermitage and Sophie Hahn)
Kare Adenegan – T34 400m
Kadeena Cox – T38 100m and 800m
Sabrina Fortune – F20 shot put
Dan Greaves – F44 discus
David Henson – T42 200m
Maria Lyle – T35 100m and 200m
Stephen Miller – F32 club throw
Gemma Prescott – F32 club throw
Andrew Small – T33 100m