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Crates wins Gold to complete set of major titles

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Danny Crates
Danny Crates On His Way To A Gold Medal

Danny Crates ensured the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team ended their track and field campaign with a golden lining on the penultimate day of Assen 2006

The 33-year-old Essex middle distance runner added the elusive World Championship T46 800m gold to his Paralympic Games and European Championship titles.

Crates admitted he was wracked with nerves before this afternoon’s race got underway at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands.

But he struck the front 300m from home and then stepped up the pace with 200m to go, opening up a gap of a few metres. The chasing pack tried to catch up, but he kicked for home again 100m from the line and this time the field couldn’t respond.

“I’ve been running for Great Britain for eight years and I’ve never won an individual World Championship title or medal of any kind,” said the Thurrock Harrier.

“I wanted it so much and I piled the pressure on myself leading up to the championships. I only had about two and a half hours’ sleep last night, I was desperate to get my hands on the gold. It’s a relief to know I’ve finally done it and that I’ve got the whole set.

“That was the fastest international time I’ve had to run, so it shows the standard is improving.

“It was a long 100m at the end, I thought they were coming back at me, but my legs can still turn over,” he added.

Crates crossed the line in 1:54.92 to add the World Championship title to the gold he won at the Paralympic Games in Athens and his European gold in Finland last year. Kenya’s Stephen Wambua took silver in 1:55.32, with Marcin Awizen from Poland taking bronze in 1:55.59.

Surrey wheelchair racer David Weir collected his fourth medal of the championships, but this time it was a silver rather than gold. Weir went into this afternoon’s race with an incredible hat-trick of 100m, 400m and 1500m titles under his belt from Assen.

But this time he was edged out of it by home favourite, Dutch racer Kenny van Weeghel. The flying Dutchman knew he had to go fast to beat Weir in the T54 200m, and he did so, setting a championship record of 25.12 seconds. Weir crossed the line second in 25.36 to add a silver to his haul, with Leo Pekka Tahti, reigning Paralympic champion, taking bronze in 25.85, Weir had earlier won his semi in 25.44 seconds.

Weir went into the championships saying his target was to come home with a gold.

After collecting his fourth and final medal in Assen he said: “I was quite emotional, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I’d finished.

“I’ve done 13 races this week, which is quite a lot of mental stress, and that does drain you because you’ve got to come up for the races and then come down. That takes a lot out of you.

“I don’t think I’ve done too many races,” he added. “Kenny (van Weeghel) is a good racer and he was strong today. I beat Leo (Pekka Tahti), the Paralympic champion and I’ve still got my 200m world record.

“I won the ones that I really wanted to win. The 400m is my favourite event and I really wanted to win that. Winning the 1500m was unbelievable – that was probably my best achievement of the week. It was tough – there were 40 wheelchairs that could win it. Then the 100m was unbelievable.”

John McFall added a silver medal in the T42 100m to the 200m bronze he won on Tuesday in one of the final races of the day.

McFall held his nerve after four false starts that saw three finalists disqualified. He crossed the line in 13.55, with Germany’s Wojtek Czyz taking gold in a championship record 12.79 seconds.

“I’ve been in a few races with a couple of false starts, but never as many disqualifications,” said 25-year-old, who lives in Cardiff. “You’ve just got to keep your mind on the race and do your best.

“I’m so happy to have come away with two medals,” he added. “Training is the hard part, racing is the icing on the cake.”

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson won bronze in the T53 400m – ensuring she leaves Assen with a full set of medals – gold, silver and bronze - at what she says will be her last World Championships.

The 11-times Paralympic Games gold medallist added the 400m bronze to the 800m silver she won on Tuesday and the 200m gold she won on Thursday.

Dame Tanni started strongly, but Americans Jessica Galli and Amanda McGrory pulled away to battle it out for gold. Galli took first in 59.24, with McGrory second in 59.33 and Dame Tanni took bronze in 59.91.

“In the final 50m there was nothing left in the tank. I was flat out and I couldn’t have done any more,” she said.

“I think I was more pleased with the 400m than the other events. I couldn’t have started any better or attacked any harder.

“This will be my last Worlds – I won’t be here in four years time,” she added. “It’s been a good championships and I think I’ve done all right here.”

Earlier Stephen Payton won Britain’s first medal of the day when he took bronze in the T38 400m. It means the 29-year-old has medalled over 400m in each of the last four World Championships.

Payton got off to a strong start, and while Tim Sullivan (Australia) and Marius Stander (South Africa) ran away to contest gold – with the Australian triumphing in a championship record of 51.38 –Payton’s bronze never looked in doubt. The Gateshead Harrier and Red Star AC member crossed the line in 53.23.

“I didn’t have the change of pace I was hoping for. I changed up a gear, but not as well as I usually do,” he said.

“I’m happy with a medal. The season has been up and down. I had a really good start to the season, but then I had a problem with my back and left hamstring, so I couldn’t do the training I would have liked for four weeks.

“I felt I was capable of running a bit quicker – but everyone wants to come first, run quicker and throw faster. I’m happy with third given the season I’ve had.

“This is my fourth World Championships and I’ve medalled over 400m in every one,” he added. “I’ve got quite a collection, with two golds, a silver and now a bronze.”

The gold, two silvers and two bronzes won by GB team members today (Saturday) takes the British medal tally from the championships to nine golds, nine silvers and eight bronzes, with only the marathons remaining on the Assen 2006 programme tomorrow (Sunday).

Once again Britain’s young athletes put in some impressive performances in Assen.

Sixteen-year-old East Cheshire Harrier Ian Jones ran into a creditable fourth place in the T44 200m final – another event dominated by Oscar Pistorius. The South African won in 21.80 seconds, with the British teenager tying for fourth with Ryan Fann (USA) in 24.40.

And 18-year-old Nathan Stephens (FDSW) threw a personal best of 12.32 to finish fifth in the F57 shot.

Michael Churm (Chorley AC), aged 24 and making his World Championships debut in Assen, crossed the line in fifth in T37 200m final. Gold went to Australia’s Matt Slade.

Twenty-year-old Middlesbrough AC athlete Lee Hunter finished sixth in the T36 400m final in 1:00.89.

The British 4x100m T35-38 quartet of Graeme Ballard, Michael Churm, Stephen Herbert and Ben Rushgrove missed out on the medals, finishing fifth in 49.13. Gold, silver and bronze went to Australia, Ukraine, and China respectively.

Blind runner Tracey Hinton received her second medal of the championships today – the T12 bronze medal she won at the end of last night’s session was presented this morning. She had already won a silver in the T12 800m.

Hinton, who has been out of action with an Achilles injury for two years, said: “I’m quite surprised by how much I’ve achieved. The T12 standard is getting higher and higher. The standards are rising all the time and I’ve got to work harder towards Beijing.”