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ipc world championships (16)

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Paul Blake 400
Paul Blake wins T36 400m gold

29 January 2011

He admitted it was his “bonus” event, but 21-year-old Paul Blake (coach: Rob Ellchuk) is now T36 400m World Champion after smashing his lifetime best to take gold in the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand (21-30 January) this evening.

The double world silver medallist over 800m and 1500m - who had cruised through to the 400m final as the fastest qualifier in a PB at the time - reduced his best by another second to take victory in 56.93, a world leading time, and in doing so left the world’s top three, including double world champion Artem Arefyev, trailing in his wake.  

“I felt good in the heats and I’m really happy,” said the 21-year-old who finished a full second ahead of runner up Andrey Zhirnov of Russia (58.03). “My main priority was to qualify for the final and to become World Champion is just amazing.

“I’ve worked very hard for this and the group I’ve had around me has been great. My training partners Ben and Kat (Ben Rushgrove and Katrina Hart) have been awesome out here, and so has my coach, Rob (Rob Ellchuk). They’ve really kept me motivated.”

Ellchuk - deservedly sharing in the success of his talented squad - added: “We had nothing to lose by entering Paul for this event because he’d already run his two best events. I told him not to blow out for the first 200m but to stay with the guys and at 150m to give it everything he had left. He did, and it turned out he had a lot left. He’s fantastic and he’s really come of age on this trip.”

In the final event of the penultimate day of action, David Devine (coach: Brian Scobie), former IBSA Open European Championships 800m silver medallist, finished third in the T12 800m (2:00.61) to take the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal total to an impressive 38 overall.

In a high class field which included three of the top four in the world, Devine was in second at the bell, but World Record holder Abderrahim Zhiou (Tunisia) - 2011 World Champion over 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m - and current world number two Ignacio Avila (Spain) moved up a gear as they tore up the final 150m.

“I didn’t want to take it out because of the wind,” admitted Devine. “I tried to go with them when they kicked, but on the day I was beaten by two better athletes so I can’t complain.

“Our team out here has been amazing and to be able to contribute to our medal total is brilliant; I’ve won a medal in my first major Championships and it’s been great.”

Zhiou secured the victory in 1:57.79 with Avila in second (1:58.57).

Tomorrow’s marathon events - which conclude the IPC Athletics World Championships nine-day competition programm - kick off at 08.00/08.01 NZ time (19.00/19.01 UK time) with three-times World Champion David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer) in the T54 men’s race and T54 5000m bronze medallist Shelly Woods (coach: Pete Wyman) in the women’s race.

For the latest news about the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, please visit www.ipcathleticsworldchamps.com, while the IPC’s online TV channel www.ParalympicSport.TV is broadcasting live coverage of the evening sessions from Christchurch.

Daily session reports will be posted on the UKA website: www.uka.org.uk