Britain's first strike

Paralympics
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The Independent Online
Britain won their first two medals at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta yesterday with Alan Earle in the men's F44 high jump and Paul Williams in the F34 javelin both gaining silvers.

Earle, 23, a lower leg amputee from Stockport, broke the British record by three centimetres with a jump of 1.79 metres to finish second behind Bin Hou of China, who was little-known before the event. Hou won with a jump of 1.92m and is just one of many athletes who is likely to cause surprise results as more nations compete in these Paralympic Games than ever before. "We knew nothing about this guy," Earle said. "He seems to have come from nowhere, but he's a great jumper."

Williams, a civil servant from Nottingham who won the Paralympic javelin title in Barcelona in 1992 to add to double golds at javelin and discus in Seoul in 1988, took silver with 34.42m, which was well below his world record 38.46m he set at the world championships in 1994.

Janet McMorran, Great Britain's top-ranked wheelchair tennis player - she reached No 8 in the world earlier this year - had high hopes of progressing through to the final stages, but she failed to qualify for the quarter- finals when she was beaten by the world No 2, Daniela Di Toro, of Australia 6-4 6-1. It was a bitter blow for McMorran, who was impressive in the first round when she beat Arlette Racineux of France 1-6 6-2 6-2.

There was also concern in the British camp over 41-year-old markswoman Isabel Newstead, a wheelchair air-pistol competitor who fell off a ramp and sustained a broken hip. Newstead was rushed to hospital and is due to undergo surgery immediately. A British Paralympic Association spokesperson said that Newstead still hopes of competing when the event begins on Thursday, but it will obviously be dependent on the operation.

Newstead has enjoyed a varied Paralympic career. She finished with a bronze in the pistol at the Seoul in 1988 and had previously won six Paralympic gold medals and four silver medals as a swimmer in 1980 and 1984.

Moreover, in 1988, she completed a hat-trick of gold, silver and bronze medals in the discus, shot and javelin, setting a new world record at discus.

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