Athletics: Hannah Cockroft powers to second Paralympics title


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The Independent Online

Here comes the story of the Hurricane... "Hurricane Hannah" Cockroft added another chapter to her Paralympic success story, and another gold medal, last night.

Having swept to victory in the T34 100m last Friday, bagging the first British track and field gold of the Games, the 20-year-old wheelchair racer from Halifax had far too much wind in her sails for rivals in the 200m. With the braids in her hair dyed a patriotic red, white and blue, she blasted round the bend a veritable street clear of the rest of the field and crossed the line in 31.90sec, a Paralympic record.

Her winning margin was 2.26sec, huge in a sprint event, the Dutch duo Amy Siemons and Desiree Vranken picking up the minor medals in her wake. Her British team-mate Mel Nicholls finished seventh in 40.00sec.

"The 200m is my favourite event so I really wanted the gold in this one," Cockcroft said. "It's fair to say I was very nervous on that start line. I hit the top speed I've hit in the entire Games in that race. A world record would have been nice but it was the gold medal that I wanted. This summer has been breath-taking. It's been amazing, a dream come true. This is what I've worked for. I've got nothing to do now with my life - just work for Rio now and hopefully do it again."

There was also a second medal of the Games for Paul Blake last night. Following his silver in the T36 400m, the 22-year-old followed home the Russian pair of Evgenii Shvetcov and Artem Arefyev for bronze in the 800m, clocking 2min 08.24 sec.

That made it a medal double for the Dorset athlete, whose father played Greedo, the bounty hunter shot by Han Solo in Star Wars. "I'm really happy with a silver and a bronze," Blake said.

The first of eight British track and field medals yesterday came in the morning session, Bev Jones taking bronze in the F37 discus. The 37-year-old from Flintshire, who represents Wales as a cricketer, produced a season's best throw of 30.04m in the third round and improved to 30.99m in the sixth and final round.

"It's fantastic," Jones said, celebrating her first medal in her fourth Paralympics. "I felt a bit of pressure but I knew I just had to hold it together."

Ben Rushgrove held it together sufficiently in the closing stages of the 200m T36 final to claim the first home medal of the evening session. The 24-year-old from Bath finished third behind Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine and So Wa Wai of Hong Kong in 24.83sec, a personal best. Graeme Ballard, a silver medallist in the 100m, was fourth in 25.20sec.

Ola Abidogun produced a flying finish in the T46 100m final to get himself on the podium. The 19-year-old from Bolton finished third in 11.23sec – behind Zhao Xu of China and Racial Isidoria of Cuba.

The eighth and final home medal of the day came courtesy of Dan Greaves, who threw 59.01m for silver in the T44 discus final.