Discus: Aled Davies takes Great Britain's athletics team past Beijing gold medal haul


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The Independent Online

Aled Davies admitted he was hooked on the Olympic Stadium roar as he celebrated a dominant discus gold in style.

The 21-year-old was already guaranteed the title and had a tear in his eye when he stepped into the circle to deafening cheers for his final throw of the F42 competition.

The result was a new European record of 46.14 metres as the Bridgend athlete, also the shot put bronze medallist, added Great Britain's third Paralympic gold of the Games.

Davies knew it was big straight away and raced off in celebration, punching the air before draping himself in the Union Flag for a lap of honour.

"It was incredible out there. It's addictive," said Davies, who put his sports management course on hold to pursue his Paralympic dream.

"It's sad to know that was my last event because after competing on Friday I just couldn't wait to get back in here.

"Those roars are just something else. It wouldn't have mattered where I finished, those guys would have been cheering whatever happened."

Davies, who represented Wales at swimming before turning his attention to athletics in 2006, was born with talipese and hemi-hemilia in his right leg, which means the limb is missing bones, muscle and ligaments and is supported with a brace.

His victory took the hosts past their Beijing gold medal tally on only the third morning of competition.

And he revealed he was holding back tears when he went up for his final throw.

"I was almost going to say, 'No I don't want it'," he said. "But then I thought, 'I'm here on the world stage and this is for all the fans'.

"So I managed to go in there and just enjoy it, and I really did enjoy it. It was an unforgettable moment for me.

"I would have love to have thanked every individual person in there because without them there wouldn't be this atmosphere. It's what makes the Games."

Davies, who has thrown 47.72m before but in an unratified event, went over to embrace his mother Jackie in the crowd and also his brother, who had flown in from Australia to watch him compete.

He added: "It was very emotional. We knew what I was capable of doing. I managed to pull out a massive throw so I'm just chuffed that I was able to perform on the world stage."

The thrower revealed he would love his success to be acknowledged by getting the chance to go on the pitch ahead of a Wales rugby union international at the Millennium Stadium.

"I just want to be recognised as an elite athlete now, because I feel that sometimes we are not recognised as elite athletes and we don't get the recognition," he said.

"I just want everyone to know that I have put in all the hard work to be here where I am now.

"I want to keep pushing the boundaries of the sport as much as I can. If I can push up to an able-bodied standard I would love to do that."

Davies' success followed a silver medal for Stef Reid in the long jump, the 27-year-old setting two new Paralympic records only to be denied gold by a whisker.

Reid, who lost her right leg below the knee in a horrific boating accident aged 15, launched herself out to 5.28m.

It was actually 90cm further than gold medallist Kelly Cartwright, but with points rather than distances determining the final standings in the combined class F42/44 event, she finished agonisingly short.

Reid, a F44 athlete who competed for Canada in Beijing, finished with 1023 points, while her Australian rival, in the F42 class, achieved a world record for 1030 points.

She had her life saved but lost her leg after it was caught in the propeller of a motor boat.

"I was so thankful to have my life saved, but then to find out I was going to be an amputee it made me question - I don't really know if I want to continue on like this," she said.

"When they pulled me back on the boat, you could see it in everyone's face, this is not good, there is too much blood. I remember lying in the ambulance and eventually they took me to a local clinic.

"At that point, my parents have come down. I remember being furious with the doctor because he sent my parents in and I knew what he was doing - he sent them in to say goodbye because nobody thought I would ever make it."

She credited the harsh but realistic words of a nurse in a Toronto hospital with picking her up.

"In the end, it ended up being an amazing gift as a 16-year-old to realise what really mattered in life," she added.

"It's funny, I was thinking, as I was on there (on the long jump runway) I was terrified.

"But then I thought, 'You know what, I have been up against boat propellers - and I won. This is not going to be that difficult."

Elsewhere, Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods finished eighth in the T54 5,000m.

Sprinters Graeme Ballard and Ben Rushgrove, who have cerebral palsy, cruised into the T36 100m final and David Devine qualified for the final of the T13 1500m.

Katrina Hart and Jenny McLoughlin made it through to the final of the T37 100m, but Ireland's Heather Jameson went out.

Tracey Hinton, competing in her sixth Games, went out in the semi-finals of the T11 200m.