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london disability athletics challenge

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Stefanie Reid

12 August 2010

For the second successive year, the London Disability Athletics Challenge – the final event in the 2010 UKA Disability Athletics Challenge Series - is the largest international Paralympic athletics event in the UK with 120 athletes from 19 different nations represented.

Domestically, the entries are headed by Paralympic Games bronze medallist Stefanie Reid (coach: Dan Pfaff), who jumped to a new F44 World Record in the long jump with a lifetime best of 5.05m (+0.2m/s) in the McCain JumpsFest in London last weekend.

The US-based athlete, who finished third over 200m in the 2008 Beijing Games, has already achieved the IPC World Championships ‘A’ qualification standard for the long jump courtesy of a 4.85m effort in the UKA Disability Athletics Challenge Series in Knowsley (Liverpool) in May. She’s now targeting the required marks over 100m and 200m in a bid to score a trio of podium finishes on the global stage next year.

"I PB’d over 100m in Canada earlier in July so I know I’m in good shape," said Reid who clocked 14.26 on that occasion, "but time is running out to achieve those standards on the track and the pressure is really on me to perform at Crystal Palace."

Having race to a wind-assisted clocking of 14.19 (+2.7m/s) - one one-hundredth of a second inside the UKA qualifying standard for IPC World Championships - at the Lee Valley Open Sprints meeting on 21 July, she’s clearly demonstrated her impressive form going into this weekend’s event and will want to reduce her legal best at the capital venue.

Heading the international entrants on the women’s side, and giving Reid the level of competition she relishes, is April Holmes (USA), World Record holder in the T44 100m and 200m and reigning World Champion.

The Beijing Paralympic Games gold medallist, who has clocked incredible global best times of 12.98 and 27.10 in the 100m and 200m respectively, also won Paralympic Games bronze in the long jump on her debut in Athens 2004.

David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer), currently in the form of his life with PB’s over 200, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m in 2010, is the stand out British male on the start list.

While he’ll be looking to build on his victories over 100m and 800m in round two of the DAC in Gateshead - the latter an IPC World Championships ‘A’ standard – on Sunday,  he’ll have to work hard to defeat his friend and rival Josh Cassidy of Canada, the 2010 Virgin London Marathon winner.

The pair will line up in the T53/54 800m and the T54 1500m on Sunday, Weir confident following high quality performances in the IAAF/Samsung Diamond League events in Lausanne and Paris, Cassidy – the Canadian record holder over 1500m, 5000m and 1,0000m - knowing he has enviable endurance strength, demonstrated most recently by his marathon victory in Ontario in May.

Also competing in London is Graeme Ballard (coach: Steve Thomas), who is aiming for six wins out of six in the DAC series in 2010. The 31-year-old, who has medalled in the two previous IPC World Championships, is targeting qualification and even more success, in what could be his third successive outing at the global event in New Zealand next January.

Having clocked season’s best performances with victories in Gateshead in round two – also World Championships ‘B’ standards – Ballard will be hoping to come closer to his PB’s and ultimately the ‘A’ qualification marks this weekend.

In addition, a number of Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland under-23 team athletes, including Beijing Paralympian Nathan Stephens (coach: Anthony Hughes), will compete at Crystal Palace prior to their departure to the IWAS World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic later this month (20-26 August).

Stephens, the defending IWAS World Junior Champion in the F57 shot putt and javelin, will continue his return to action following a shoulder operation when he competes in the discus and javelin this weekend.

The first event takes place at 11.00am. For all the most up to date event information go to: http://www.uka.org.uk/competitions/dac-2010/ and select the ‘London’ option.