Two-time Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock wants decision-makers in his sport to trust para-athletes to fill their stadiums.
Peacock joined forces with Libby Clegg, Ali Smith and Nathan Maguire as Great Britain claimed silver in the new universal 4x100m relay. The event made its Games debut, featuring athletes with multiple sclerosis and visual impairment alongside an amputee and a wheelchair runner. As a visual metaphor for what the Paralympics mean, it was certainly powerful.
Diamond League events regularly feature para competitions, but all too often they are dismissed as tokens.
Suggestions to combine the world championships were greeted with little hindsight by World Athletics, whose last flagship event in Doha two years ago drew tiny crowds.
However, a successful model exists, with para events even more integrated into the Commonwealth Games track and field program, next year’s event in Birmingham, than ever before.
“Put a decibel meter in a grandstand when you have a stadium full of able-bodied athletics and parasport competition – listen to the noise,” he said. “The public likes it but the meeting planners don’t seem to agree. Hopefully one day they will.
Meanwhile, Peacock paid tribute to Clegg as she raised the curtain on her Paralympic athletic career with a podium performance.
“To be part of Libby’s last race and get a medal with her is just amazing,” said Peacock, bronze medalist in the men’s 100m T64. “She didn’t talk about it, but she suffered so much at these Games and it was not easy legs for her. She gritted her teeth and got us a medal, I’m so proud.
“It’s a very different event and it showcases the best in everyone. It’s a lot of fun to watch, not something you would see in an average track and field competition, and hopefully something you will see more of.
Clegg thanked his longtime guide runner Chris Clarke and even claimed this medal won over his double gold in Rio. She has hinted that she might return to the Games in cycling, but for now, she just wants to go home with her son Edward.
“I am so privileged and proud to be a part of this team and to share this moment with these guys,” she said. “I won two Paralympic gold medals in Rio and it didn’t make me happy, right now it’s my proudest moment – being part of this team.
“I’ll take a little time but this is my last running competition, unless I’m going for a sports day when my son is in elementary school. To end my athletic career with this medal was a dream come true.
Elsewhere two reigning British champions failed to win gold, Richard Whitehead won T61 silver in the 200m and once I am a celebrity Competitor Hollie Arnold admitted her frustration with the women’s bronze in the F46 javelin as the pouring rain did not make for a high quality competition.
“Even though I’m on the podium that’s not where I want to be, I wanted the gold medal, I’ll be ready to fight next year,” she said.
Whitehead insisted retirement was not on the agenda, despite being beaten by South African teenager Ntando Mahlangu.
He said, “He’s 19, I’m 45. Age is just a number, isn’t it?” The thing with sport and Paralympic sport, it’s not about classification, it’s about heritage. “
Kadeena Cox, already a double gold medalist at the velodrome, set the best time of the season in 1 min 2.51 s to qualify for the final of the women’s 400m T38, where she will be joined by her teammate Smith.
“I wanted to qualify automatically, but I didn’t think I would have to run that fast to do it,” said Cox. “I didn’t think I would have a better five-second time in the season either, but I’m really, really happy.
“I knew I would be able to go a little faster than I did. I wanted to be able to stop towards the end, but I had to fight to the line. I knew as soon as I was online with the girls it was a fight to the end.
“It’s good to have reached this final. It’s the first time we’ve had laps so it was a bit of a shock to the system so I’ll go back and recover. I hope I can top off a great Games tomorrow.
Elsewhere, British world champion Jonathan Broom-Edwards won gold in the men’s T64 high jump and Owen Miller, in his Paralympic debut, won the men’s T20 1500m. Hannah Taunton also won bronze in the women’s T20 1,500m.
“I’ve been fighting for this gold medal for years,” said Broom-Edwards. “It was horrible conditions, so I tried to keep my cool and get it right when it mattered. I am so relieved, delighted, excited and I cry.
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