Former Wheelchair Rugby player Josie Pearson claimed a Discus world record to win ParalympicsGB’s 10th gold medal in the Olympic Stadium this morning.
Pearson made a piece of history four years ago when she became the first woman to represent Great Britain in Wheelchair Rugby at a Paralympic Games.
She switched to concentrate fully on Athletics the year after Beijing and it paid dividends as she took gold in the F51/52/53 Discus today.
Pearson, from Hay-on-Wye in Herefordshire, threw 6.58 metres with her third throw to take gold and with it a world record. It was Britain’s 10th gold and 27th Athletics medal of the Games to date.
Pearson had thrown 6.66m earlier this year but it wasn’t verified as an F51 world best. But this time her throw received official sanction, erasing the 6.13m achieved by Ireland’s Catherine O’Neill four years ago.
The 26 year old broke the old world record with an opening round throw of 6.38m and extended it to 6.54m with her second throw. Just for good measure, Pearson rounded off her campaign with a throw of 6.57m, just 1cm short of her new record.
As well as competing in Wheelchair Rugby, Pearson had a go at wheelchair racing, in which she competed at last year’s World Championships, before deciding to concentrate on throwing.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “This is the culmination of so many years’ hard work. I was nervous waiting for my first three throws.
“I was throwing consistently in training and consistently breaking the world record, so after that first throw was a relief. Once I knew I’d broken the world record by quite a bit and had some points on the scoreboard, so I could relax a bit.
“I wouldn’t have minded breaking it again in my last three throws, but it just wasn’t there.
“I only started throwing after the worlds last year and it was a bit of a disappointment, but I’ve always been very determined and I knew I wanted to be Paralympic champion.
“I was inspired by watching the Games in Athens after my accident and that inspired me to get into sport, then when we heard it was coming to London that inspired me even more.
“To compete in front of a home crowd with everyone behind me has been absolutely amazing. I’m never ever going to forget this feeling in my life.
“I loved Wheelchair Rugby, but team sport just wasn’t for me,” she added. “I wanted to get back to an individual side of stuff and everything has paid off.”
In the F40 Javelin, Kyron Duke extended his personal best by 1.25m with his opening throw. His best throw of 38.64m put him seventh at the three-throw stage, earning him a final three attempts.
But he couldn’t further improve on his best and finished eighth on a day when five of the 10 athletes competing produced throws that exceeded the old world best.
China’s Wang Zhiming took gold with 47.95m, adding more than seven metres to the overnight world record.
The 19 year old from Cwmbran in Wales, said: “That level of competition was just ridiculous. The Chinese are ridiculously good, it’s just insane.
“I felt good and I felt ready. It’s a lifetime best and I can’t really ask more, to PB in London, but I’d have loved a medal, although Rio is probably more my time.”
And Scoot Moorhouse, from Southgate in Middlesex, came seventh in the F42 Javelin with a season’s best throw of 45.30m. Gold went to China’s Fu Yanglong with a world record 52.79m.
“Coming into this I knew I’d need to be close to his PB or near to it to be in with a chance of a medal,” said Moorhouse.
“I wasn’t the best competitor on the day, but I’ll go back to the drawing board with my coach and have a look at a few things.
“I’m still young and I still have to learn the art. I’m setting PBs in the gym and in training but I need to pull it all together.
“I’m more consistent this season but it’s the big throws that count.”
Two of Britain’s sprint gold medallists were back in action in the Olympic Stadium this morning, with both Mickey Bushell and Richard Whitehead earning the opportunity to double their gold medal hauls tonight.
Bushell won gold in the T53 100m on Monday night but almost got caught out in his 200m heat this morning. Leading off the bend, he eased off towards the line only to see Zhao Yufei of China and Kuwait’s Hamad Aladwani breeze by to take the two automatic qualifying spots.
But Bushell’s time of 26.73 seconds earned him a fastest losers qualification berth – and a European record. The final is at 20:31.
Richard Whitehead, who struck gold in the T42 200m on Saturday, qualified for tonight’s 100m final, running a personal best 12.97 to come third in his heat. Whitehead is from Carrington in Nottinghamshire and his final get underway at 21:25 tonight.
“It was a good warm-up, I just wanted to enjoy it today,” said Whitehead.
For more news and pictures from London 2012 go to the ParalympicsGB website: www.paralympics.org.uk/gb