Davies raises the roof with discus gold and record


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The Independent Online

As he stepped into the discus circle for his sixth and final throw in the Paralympic F42 competition yesterday, Aled Davies was already celebrating. The gold medal was in the bag. Still, as the 80,000 sell-out crowd roared in encouragement, the 21-year-old Welshman managed to channel the electricity into something special. He hurled the discus out to 46.14m, a European record.

It is just as well that they did not put a lid on the Olympic Stadium. It would have been in danger of being lifted by the deafening roar that erupted. It propelled Davies – who was born with hemelia and has a deformed right leg strapped up by a brace – on a lap of honour that drew the kind of acclamation that was afforded to Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt during Olympic time here, leaving the new golden boy gasping for breath. "I'm knackered," Davies confessed. "I've never run that far in my life. I would have loved to have thanked every individual person in the stadium because without them there wouldn't be this atmosphere. It's what makes the Games. I'm a very patriotic man, so when I saw the Welsh flag I was straight in there. And there were so many little ones out there who wanted an autograph. It's all about inspiring a generation, so I just hope that's what I've done."

In the shot on Friday, Davies finished an unexpected third, winning Britain's first athletics medal of the Games. He spoke then about having to rein back because of the charge the crowd gave him.

"I learned a lot from the shot," he said. "I knew, going in, that I just needed to relax and chill out. I didn't need to build myself up or psych myself up, because the crowd were doing that."

Sadly, there was no gold medal achievement on the track for Britain in the morning athletics session yesterday. Shelly Woods lined up as one of the leading contenders in the T54 5,000m final and she was well placed, near the front of the nine-strong field, until it came to the last lap, when she faded to eighth as Switzerland's Edith Wolf claimed the gold.

"I had a plan and I stuck to it," Woods said. "I wouldn't have raced it any differently. I tried to break the other girls but they were just stronger."

Stef Reid won silver in the F42/44 long jump behind Kelly Cartwright of Australia. She said: "I have to admit I walked away and I was disappointed."