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Preview of the IPC World Championships

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Wheelchair racer David Weir (Velocity Wheelchair Racers) will spearhead the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the 2006 IPC World Championships in Holland. The 27-year-old Surrey racer missed out on the medals at the Lille World Championships in 2002, but has been in outstanding form this year.

 

The Great Britain & Northern Ireland squad also features Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson (Cardiff AAC), Ken Churchill (Durham City of A’s), Danny Crates (Thurrock Harriers), Daniel Greaves (Loughborough Students) and Stephen Miller (Gateshead Harriers) – all gold medallists at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games – as well as some young athletes competing at their first major championships.

 

They are over 1,000 athletes from 80 countries expected to compete at the IPC World Championships in Assen, which start on Sunday 3 September and conclude on Sunday 10 September.

 

Weir’s impressive list of achievements so far this year include winning the London Marathon wheelchair race in April and a hat-trick of victories in the T54 100m, 200m and 1500m at the Visa Paralympic World Cup in May. He struck gold in the 1500m wheelchair demonstration race at the European Championships in Gothenburg in August and set a 400m world record of 46.11 seconds at the Swiss Open last weekend, although that is awaiting International Paralympic Committee ratification.

Weir is scheduled for a busy time in Assen – he is entered for the T54 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and the marathon. He is also a member of the 4x100m wheelchair race relay quartet. Weir will delay his final decision on which events he competes in until just before the championships.

 

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m a bit nervous, but I’ll be fine when I get there,” said Weir. “I want to come back with a gold medal. If I can do that I’ll be over the moon.”

Britain’s most celebrated Paralympian, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, competes in four events in Assen, the T53 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Dame Tanni’s many sporting achievements include 16 medals - 11 of them gold – over the last five Paralympic Games.

 

Great Britain call upon the services of the highly experienced Bob Matthews (Leamington AC) in the marathon.  Matthews has won eight gold medals from the last seven Paralympic Games over distances from 800m to 10000m. He goes in the T11 marathon in Assen on marathons day - Sunday 10 September – the last day of the championships.

 

Kenny Herriot (Unattached) who last year broke David Holding’s T54 British marathon record, joins Tushar Patel (Velocity Wheelchair Racing Club) and Brian Alldis (British Wheelchair Racing Association) in the T54 marathon. Weir will make a late decision on his participation in the event.

 

Patel and Alldis joins Weir in the T54 1500m and also in the 4x100m relay squad, which also features Jason Richards and young athlete Mickey Bushell (Birchfield Harriers). Patel also contests the 5000m and 10000m, while Alldis is also entered in the T54 200m, 400m and 800m.

 

Lloyd Upsdell (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) is among British athletes aiming to challenge for the medals in the sprints. He won a brace of golds in Lille in the T35 100m and 200m. In Assen only the T35 100m will be contested, so Upsdell will only race for a single medal this time around. However, that means he also has the satisfaction of knowing he remains reigning T35 200m world champion and World Championships record holder.

 

There could be intense British rivalry in the men’s T36 sprints, where Athens 2004 200m bronze medallist Graeme Ballard’s (Chorley AC) opponents include the improving 18-year-old Ben Rushgrove (City of Bath AC). Both run in the 100m and 200m. But rivalry in the individual events means GB should be able to field a strong 4x100m CP relay quartet.

 

Ballard and Rushgrove are joined in the relay squad by T37 athletes Michael Churm (Chorely AC), Jamie Harding (Blackheath & Bromley AC) and Stephen Herbert (Cardiff AC), as well as T38 athlete Stephen Payton (Gateshead Harriers).

 

Herbert, Churm and Harding also contest the T37 100m, with Churm also running over 200m. Neil Fachie (T13), John McFall (T32) and Ian Jones (T44) go in both the 100m and 200m, while Mickey Bushell contests the T53 100m. Payton competes in the T38 400m, while Lee Hunter (Middlesbrough AC) goes in the T36 400m and Matt Cliff (Liverpool Harriers) the T12 400m.

 

Twice Paralympian Hazel Simpson (Jarrow & Hebburn) runs in the T36 100m and 200m. Formerly Hazel Robson, the Worlds represent her first major event since her wedding in February. Hazel won silvers over both distances at Lille four years ago – a performance she repeated at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. She won 100m gold at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

 

At 14, Katherine Deal, (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) is the youngest member of the British squad. She competes in the T13 200m. Elizabeth Clegg, a 16-year-old from the Scottish Borders, runs in the T12 100m and 200m at what is the biggest event of her career.

 

Katrina Hart (Worcester AC) also 16, goes in the T37 100m and 200m. She was the youngest member of the GB team at last year’s Open European Championships, aged 15, but still came home with a T37 100m bronze medal.

 

Her opponents in both events will include team-mate Beverley Jones (West Cheshire AC) who also competes in the F37 shot in Assen. Jones won Golds in the T37 100m and F37 shot at the 2005 Open European Championships in Finland.

 

Anne Wafula Strike (Harlow Running Club) who in 2004 became the first Kenyan wheelchair racer to compete at a Paralympic Games – races in GB colours in Assen in the T53 100m, 200m and 400m.

 

Debbie Brennan (Birchfield Harriers) was one of Britain’s stars of the show in Lille four years ago with a hat-trick of gold medals in the T34 100m, 200m and 400m. None of those events feature on the programme for Assen due to a shortage of entries, so Brennan will compete in the tougher T53 100m, where her opponents will include British team-mates Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Anne Wafula Strike.

Tracey Hinton (Cardiff AC) who has been in good form this year on her return after almost two years out of action with an Achilles injury, runs in the T12 400m and 800m.

Shelly Woods (British Wheelchair Racing Association), the 20-year-old who has already impressed on the track and road, goes in the T54 800m, 1500m and 5000m, and is Great Britain’s sole entry for the women’s marathon – she finished second in both the 2005 and 2006 London Marathon wheelchair race.

 

Danny Crates (Thurrock Harriers) was fourth in both the T46 400m and the 800m at the Lille World Championships. He has since concentrated on the longer distance, taking gold at the 2004 Paralympic Games and 2005 Open European Championships. He runs in the T46 800m again in Assen. Jason Richards (Wakefield Harriers) will be in action in the T53 800m and Dean Miller (Barrow in Furness Striders) goes in the T38 800m.

In the field events, Daniel Greaves (Loughborough Students) and Stephen Miller (Gateshead Harriers) both bid to retain titles in Assen. The pair have both dominated their events in recent years.

 

Greaves won the F44 discus title in Lille four years ago and struck gold in Athens 2004, setting a world record in the process.

 

Miller has dominated the club event at the last three Paralympic Games, winning gold on each occasion. He aims to repeat that performance in Assen by adding to his club World Championship golds at Birmingham in 1998 and Lille in 2002. Miller also competes in the shot in Assen.

 

F51 athlete Richard Schabel (British Wheelchair Racing Association) who celebrates his 48th birthday on the day of the opening ceremony at Assen - competes in both the discus and club, while David Gale (Southport Wheelchair Sports Club, F51), Keith Gardner (Red Star AC, F36), and Danny West (Nottingham AC, F34) also compete in the discus. West also throws in the shot in Assen, as does F32 athlete Bernie Doolan (Liverpool Challenge Disability Sports Club) who celebrates his 24th birthday during the Championships.  Andrew Williams (F32), Martin Crutchley (Cannock & Stafford, F38) Robin Womack (British Wheelchair Athletics Association, F55) and Nathan Stephens (FDSW, F51) also throw the shot, while Stephens – who played for the GB ice sledge hockey team at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games - also competes in the F54-58 javelin.

 

Ken Churchill won the F37 javelin title at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games but had to settle for silver in the combined F36-F37 event in Lille. He competes in the F37 javelin in Assen.

 

Kim Minett (City of Portsmouth) and Sophie Hancock (Horwich Harriers) throw both the F40 shot and discuss in Assen. Minett took silver in the shot in Lille, while Hancock, comes to the event fresh from beating the F40 discuss World record – although her throw of 20m is awaiting IPC ratification.  Hancock celebrates her 20th birthday on Friday 8 September – the day when the women’s F40 discus medals are due to be presented.

 

Sally Reddin, (British Wheelchair Athletics Association) who completed a golden double in Lille four years ago by taking the F54-56 discus and F54 shot titles, competes in the F54 shot this time around.

Guide To IPC Classifications:

All disability groups can compete in athletics but a system of letters and numbers are used to distinguish between them.

 

A letter F is for field athletes, T determines those who compete on the track while the number refers to their disability.

 

11-13: track and field athletes who are visually impaired

20: track and field athletes who are intellectually disabled

31-38: track and field athletes with cerebral palsy

41-46: track and field amputees and les autres

T 51-56: wheelchair track athletes

F 51-58: wheelchair field athletes