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Weir strikes Gold in Gothenburg

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The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team struck Gold at the European Championships in Gothenburg on Friday evening, thanks to David Weir (Velocity Wheelchair Racers) who produced a great performance to win the 1500m wheelchair final. Weir left the rest of the field to chase his lead on the final lap and the double winner of the Flora London Marathon showed how versatile he is by winning in 3:07.56.

 

His British teammate Tushar Patel (Velocity Wheelchair Racers) was ninth in 3:11.98.
After the Paralympics, this win is the next best thing, said Weir. But he was disappointed that the result is not part of the official medal count by the Championships. It should be on the medal table” he said.

But Weir was here after recovering from a collision with a steeplechase barrier that had been left on the track during a training session. “I hit it full on” he said. “It cracked my head open and I had to have several stitches.”

 

But how sport can bring different emotions. While Weir was winning, long jumper Jade Johnson (Herne Hill Harriers) was being taken out of the Ullevi Stadium on a stretcher. She was preparing for the competition to begin, but in the warm-up, she slipped on take off and injured her left knee. Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers), Britain’s other representative in the event, failed to progress. Sotherton was 15th overall, jumping 6.40m, 6.17m and 6.16m. The best 12 combined from both qualifying groups progressed with Tunde Vaszi, of Hungary, the last of the 12 with 6.51m.

 

The two athletes in the 800m have been making their senior British debuts here - and both have reached Sunday’s final. Sam Ellis (Barnsley) ran a fine race to finish third in the opening semi-final. He did his best to stay in third place, on the inside, for as long as he could and when he lost that position with 200m to go, he responded. The first three in each heat plus the two fastest qualified and Ellis made it through automatically, battling for third in 1:49.23 as Florent Lacasse, of France, won in 1:49.12.

Ellis said: “That was better than yesterday! Making the final was my ultimate aim, so another day of waiting now. I’m loving it, walking into the stadium it’s an overwhelming feeling! I could hear the crowd at the warm-up track tonight. I am going to go with them in the final and see what I can do.” In the second semi, Michael Rimmer (Liverpool, Pembroke 7 Sefton Harriers) stayed out of trouble on the outside and took the lead along the back straight. Significantly, Spain’s European Cup winner from Malaga, Juan de Dios Jurado, who was one of the favourites beforehand, did not make it, as he was seventh in 1:50.11. He was beaten for pace at the finish, but it was a quicker heat than the first and he reached the final as the second quickest loser. Rimmer clocked 1:47.82 in a race won by Miguel Quesada, of Spain, in 1:47.12, but he wasn't wearing his lucky t-shirt this time, as UK Athletics asked him to wear a white adidas t-shirt, under his vest.

Sara McGreavy (Sale Harriers Manchester), now coached by Graham Knight, was knocked out in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles, finishing eighth in 13.67 as Susanna Kallur, of Sweden, won in 12.76.

McGreavy making her Senior debut in Gothenburg said: “I was pleased to make the semi final, the Italian was my target but then I clipped the hurdle with my trail leg. It has been an amazing experience competing at the European Championships, I have learnt so much.”