Britain’s Aled Davies threw his way to Paralympic Games gold in the Discus today (Sunday), with Stef Read leaping to Long Jump silver in another impressive morning session for the GB team in the Olympic Stadium.
Their performances take Britain’s medal haul in the field events at the Games to six and Davies’ gold means ParalympicsGB have already beaten their Athletics gold medal tally in Beijing four years ago.
Davies, a 21 year old from Cardiff, has now landed two medals on his Paralympic Games debut. His gold in the F42 Discus today followed the bronze he won in the F42/44 Shot on Friday.
Davies was clearly emotional after his success, draped in a Union Flag he clenched his fists and waved in joy as he went to celebrate with the crowd.
He had thrown down the gauntlet from the start, taking the lead with an opening round effort of 45.31 metres. He extended his lead with 45.37m in the third round, but saved the best till last.
Roared on by the home crowd and wiping away his tears as he stepped into the circle for the final time, he threw 46.14m to secure the prized gold medal.
“It was a tough competition, but I dug deep,” he said afterwards. “It’s surreal, it hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I couldn’t wait to get back out there this morning. I learned a lot from the Shot Put. It wasn’t going to be easy as there were a lot of incredible athletes out there.
“I knew I was in world record form. I came in with a target of 50m. I didn’t quite reach that, but I did throw a European record. It was unbelievable. I had a tear in my eye when I went back out for my last throw.
“Four years of hard work have gone into this. It’s nice to give something back to everyone. I’m just so happy I performed. I’ve worked so hard so to deliver, and to give something back on the biggest stage, I can’t believe it.
“I’m sad to know that was my last event here,” he added. “The place is addictive. I’ve got a lot of love for this crowd.”
Earlier Reid leapt to a Paralympic record for her F44 class to win silver in the F42/44 Long Jump.
She started off what promised to be a busy day for her – she goes in the T44 100m final at 21:32 – with a no jump in the opening round.
But she soon got into the swing of things, following that up with 5.08m in the second round and then the Paralympic record jump of 5.28m in round three.
That put her into second overall, with Australia’s Kelly Cartwright leading the event, which combines athletes from F42 and F44 classes. The Australian had already produced a world record for her class to lead the field.
Reid, who trains in Loughborough, couldn’t improve on her performance in her final three jumps, but had already done enough to claim silver, with Marie-Amelie le Fur, France’s F44 world record holder, unable to close the gap with her final jump.
Reid said she was ‘gutted but thrilled’ – thrilled to win silver but gutted that she couldn’t convert it to gold.
“I guess I’m thrilled. I’m gutted but I’m thrilled at the same time,” she said.
“When I’d had the sixth jump, and I knew it wasn’t enough to win, I have to admit I walked away disappointed. The truth is there’s something really special about just giving your best in a situation. That is what I did.
“If someone had told me four years ago, after I’d endured the hardest four years of my life, to get a silver would have been worth it. I have no regrets.
“This has just confirmed to me that I love what I do. I’m so incredibly grateful to be here,” she said.
But there was disappointment for Shelly Woods who finished eighth in the T54 5000m final. Woods, the bronze medallist in Beijing four years ago, looked well placed throughout the final and mounted a couple of attacks to try to take the sting out of the opposition.
But she lost touch as the leaders sprinted away in the last 200m, with Switzerland’s Edith Wolf, formerly Hunkeler, racing home to take gold.
“I’m understandably disappointed, it’s not what I wanted, but I stuck to my plan and I wouldn’t have raced it any differently,” said Woods, from Lytham St Annes, who came home in 12 minutes 29.26 seconds.
“The other girls were just stronger. I tried to break them; I attacked to try to take it out of them but it didn’t work. They were brave tactics.
“It’s such a high quality field and we could race that again and it would be a different outcome. I’ve got a rest day tomorrow and I just have to pick myself up for my remaining events.”
Sprinters Ben Rushgrove and Graeme Ballard both looked impressive as they cruised into tonight’s T36 100m final.
Both were second in their heats this morning, with Bath’s Rushgrove running a season’s best 12.35 seconds and Chorley’s world record holder Ballard clocking 12.68, despite slipping as he powered out of the starting blocks.
Jenny McLoughlin and Katrina Hart both made it through to tonight’s T37 100m final, but not without a hint of drama. Chepstow athlete McLoughlin was second in heat two in 14.48 to bag an automatic berth in the final.
But Hart, the reigning Commonwealth champion for the event, came fourth in heat one and had to wait to see whether her time of 14.71 was quick enough to progress. It was and she gets to race again later.
First time Paralympian David Devine progressed to the T13 1500m final. Fifth in his heat, his time of 3:55.95 was good enough to earn a ‘fastest losers’ qualifying spot.
It was a disappointing morning for Tracey Hinton, who was run out of a place in the T11 200m final. Partnered by guide runner Steffan Hughes, the six-times Paralympian from Cardiff came third in 27.38.
There’s more to come in the evening session, which gets underway at 19:00. The action includes David Weir in the last final of the night – the T54 5000m at 21:49.
Get more Paralympics news from www.paralympics.org.uk/gb.