Discus bronze for Jones as Cockroft cruises into 200m final

Four-times Paralympian Bev Jones won bronze in the F37 Discus this morning (Thursday) to take Britain’s Athletics medal tally at the London 2012 Paralympic Games to 20.

Jones produced a season’s best throw of 30.04 metres with her third round throw in the Olympic Stadium to put her third overall going into the final three throws.

With the bronze medal secured going into her final throw, Jones, from Deeside in north Wales, celebrated by producing her best throw of the series with 30.99m.

It means she will return home with her first Paralympic Games medal.

“It’s fantastic, I’m very pleased. I felt a bit pressure, you always feel pressure, but I knew I just had to hold it together,” she said.

“Today was more the kind of performance I had expected and my shot was more preparation for today. I’m very happy.”

China’s Mi Na weighed in with a world record of 35.35m in her opening attempt of the competition to take gold.

Hannah Cockroft produced another scintillating performance to book a place in tonight’s T34 200m final.

Friend and teammate Melissa Nicholls went in the first heat and was determined to progress after missing the 100m final. She crossed the line in fourth in 39.41 seconds and had to wait to see whether that was quick enough to go through as a fastest loser.

No such issues for Cockroft, the 100m gold medallist. She raced away at the start and eased off over the last 50m. Nevertheless, she still set a Paralympic record of 33.20, breaking the old benchmark of 33.87 that has been held by Britain’s Debbie Brennan since the Sydney 2000 Games.

There was good news for Nicholls too as she learned she had qualified for the final.

“The last race didn’t go according to plan, so I tried not to think about it and just race today,” said Nicholls, from Cheltenham. “I’m so pleased to be in the final.”

Cockroft, from Halifax, added: “The 200m is my favourite event, so I really want the gold for this one. I was more nervous for this than the 100m. I’m flying right now. It’s a Paralympic record so hopefully I can do it again tonight.

“I’m really so happy for Mel that she’s in the final too,” she added.

The final goes off at 19:44 tonight (Thursday).

Lytham St Annes based wheelchair racer Shelly Woods progressed comfortably to the T54 1500m final, the event in which she won silver in Beijing. Woods won her heat, edging out Shirley Reilly of the USA at the finish line in three minutes 42.12 seconds.

“It was great, the aim was to qualify. I’ve had such a tough week and it’s been hard to lift my spirits. I felt like I was falling out with the stadium, but I watched Dave (Weir) the other night and it just reminded me why I do this,” she said.

“I went out to enjoy it and I did. I’ve had great support from the team and my friends and family but you’re the only one who can do it out there. My confidence has been there, it’s just not been happening for me.”

Heat two was slower than the first heat, which also meant Middlesbrough’s Jade Jones, who came fifth in heat one, also went through to the final as a fastest loser.

The 16 year old finished in 3:32.60 and said: “I knew it was going to be a tough race, so I went there knowing I had to go fast to get into the final. It was comfortable, I didn’t feel it too hard and this week has really got better as the week has gone on.”

Sixteen year old Olivia Breen ran a personal best of 29.75 seconds in her T38 200m heat. She was fifth fastest in the heat but her time was good enough to book a fastest losers spot in the final, which is at 19:52 tonight.

Breen, from Liphook in Hampshire, said she has drawn confidence and inspiration from helping the GB relay team win bronze on Tuesday night.

“I got a bit tired towards the end but I got off to a good start and I’m happy,” she said. “It was an anxious wait and I had my fingers crossed and now I just want to enjoy the final.

“I got so much confidence from the relay and it’s just been phenomenal. It’s my first big medal and I’m so happy I couldn’t ask for more. I’ll do my best tonight and enjoy it as it’s my last race here.”

Nineteen year old Ola Abidogun won his T46 100m heat in 11.21 to progress to the final, which gets underway at 20:12.

“It felt good, I’m glad I could perform after a poor 200m,” he said “It shows I’m healthy and strong. I need a PB tonight to win, but I’m more relaxed now and I feel fresh.”

Kyron Duke a 19 year old first-time Paralympian from Cwmbran in Wales, finished fifth in the F40 Shot courtesy of a personal best final throw of 11.24.

“It’s immense, I’m ecstatic, it was crazy out there with 80000 people behind you,” he said. “It’s so uplifting and if makes you want to do more.

“I’ve been speaking to a few of the guys who have already competed and they said you almost need to pull it back, to give 70 per cent aggression or you’ll be too energised by the crowd and just lose control.

“I’m pumped, I can’t wait for my Javelin, tomorrow’s going to be crazy.”

There was disappointment for Loughborough’s Libby Clegg, who was partnered by Mikhail Huggins in the T12 200m. She ran a lifetime best of 25.10 to come second in her heat, but that wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the final.

“I did everything I could and I couldn’t have done anymore, so I’m ok. It’s just shown how far Paralympic sport has moved on, so roll on next year for the worlds and for Rio in four years’ time.

“The standard really is fantastic and it was going to happen sooner or later and it’s happened here which has really shown the world that this is elite sport.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself this week, it’s been fantastic and I’m really proud.”

For more news and pictures from London 2012 go to the ParalympicsGB website: www.paralympics.org.uk/gb

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