07.Oct.09 Four medals for GB in 21st Deaflympic Games
The 21st Deaflympic Games recently took place in Sepember in Taiwan. 2500 athletes from 77 countries competed, with Great Britain represented by a party of 112 participants. The track and field team consisted of 10 athletes: Joanne Davison, Lauren Peffers, Bethan Lishman, Beth Sewell, Candy Hawkins, Serena Blackburn, John Ruddy jr, Nelson Bolumbu, Tim Stones and James Schofield who were joined by 3 officials. A hot and humid Taipei was the setting for the championships.
Competitor John Ruddy commented, "Yesterday the starting blocks were
like hot iron. I had to wrap towels around it.” 400m runner Lauren
Pfeffers agreed that “the track was very hot. I think I might have
burnt my finger tips practicing the starts.”
The Deaflympics are the second longest running multi-sport event next to the Olympics and were first held in Paris in 1924. Deaf athletes are not categorised in the Paralympics so this event is their biggest international competition. This year's Deaflympics yielded 4 medals for the GB team; Peffers won a silver for 400m and another silver for 800m. Davison won bronze in the hammer and Blackburn a bronze in the marathon.
In the 800m after a steady start, Lauren Pfeffer had a lot to catch up on at half way. Typically, this was not a problem; Lauren moved up another gear, overtook 3 out of 4 athletes in front of her, but it was too late to pass Belarus athlete Alena Tsiarentsyeva and there was no extra gear to move to. Lauren crossed the line in a new personal best of 55.90, which improved on her previous Deaflympics Games record, the gold medallist ended up with the Games Record.“I am really happy with the silver medal." said Lauren who then needed to prepare to defend her 800m. In that final, as soon as the flashing light turned green, she flew off her marks, but within 50m, it appeared that she was struggling and settled into 5th position, until the last 20m, when she suddenly got a power surge to pass 3 athletes in front of her and win another silver. She stated “I feel really good. I think I have got used to the weather, although it is still very hot."
James Schofield’s High Jump event meanwhile continued at the other corner of the track. James jumped a British Record height of 1.93m (a new PB), but unfortunately he missed out on the medal places.
At 5.45am, still dark, with the weather rather cool, but humid, marathon athletes were called to the starting line. Despite the heat and tiredness, Serena Blackburn continued to smile and grit away the miles and had 4 runners ahead of her with about 5km to finish. FInally an exhausted but excited Serena crossed the line in 3rd place. This was an unbelievable performance by Serena and further reconfirmed that she is one of the best deaf marathon runners in the world.
Defending hammer champion Joanne Davison began with 3 No Throws but her fourth and legal attempt landed the bronze medal. Event favourite and world record holder Trude Raad easily won with 60.27m; a new Games Record. However, the top four throwers all beat the old Games Record. This re-confirmed that the standard of the Womens Hammer is rapidly improving. It will not be long that deaf women throwers could win the Olympic Games event!
Other eventsThere are several international deaf athletics competitions annually across the globe. The previous Deaflympics were held in January 2005 in Melbourne, Australia and the next will be in Athens, 2013. In 2010, there will be the European Deaf Cross Country championships in Romania in April. There will also be the Germany International Invitation event in May and the European Deaf Athletics Cup in Turkey in September 2010. Any clubs with deaf or hard of hearing athletes who would like their athletes to represent GB in international events should please contact firstname.lastname@example.org www.deafukathletics.org.uk
There are nearly 9 million people in the UK with hearing impairments and many of them take part in different sporting activities. Many deaf athletes compete in mainstream events. Mostly, you cannot tell when an athlete is deaf unless they are wearing a hearing aid or using sign language to communicate.