17.Aug.12 World’s top athletes compete at the University of Warwick ahead of Paralympics.
Building up for the 2012 London Games, twelve Paralympians from the GB and Ghana teams joined athletes from across the UK and the University of Warwick Wheelchair Racing Academy for an evening event of 100m, 200m, and 1500m races for sprinters and wheelchair racing. Hosted as part of the British Milers Club GP for middle distance runners, with electronic timing the Aviva Parallel Success events were recognised by IPC for international rankings.
Attracted by the fast ‘Mondo’ track surface, the same used at the Olympic Stadium, competition featured multiple London Marathon winner Shelly Woods, World Record holders Richard Whitehead, Hannah Cockroft and Deborah Johnson, plus an array of Paralympic medallists including Stef Reid, Libby Clegg and Mickey Bushell. Several of the GB athletes are now using the venue regularly with Peter Eriksson the UKA Paralympic Head Coach.
After a season battered by rain and winds, the combination of summer weather and world class competition inspired a number of personal and seasons bests, including a Scottish records for Samantha Kinghorn (in only her first season), Rob Smith improving his own T52 British Record, and a huge 12 second improvement to the European 1500m record by Jamie Carter, aged just 17. He was closely followed by two other young T34 athletes Isaac Towers from Kirkby and Coventry Godiva member Ben Rowlings who were just outside the old mark.
Since setting up in July 2011, the University of Warwick Wheelchair Racing Academy has helped to introduce a number of new wheelchair racers to the sport and is now one of four regional centres recognised by UKA for athletes and coaches. Members include 13 year old Charlotte Moore from Tile Hill who is unbeaten at the London Mini Marathon in 3 years, University of Warwick engineering graduate Rob Smith, current English & Philosophy student Ali Wood and Ronnie Harris from Kenilworth whose three sons take part in the Godiva Kids sessions.
One of the Academy’s founder members Mel Nicholls improved her 200m times by over 6 seconds this year – a huge margin in sprints – up to 4th in the world rankings for 200m and 6th in the 100m, earning selection for the Paralympics GB team. Disabled by a series of strokes in her 20’s, Mel only started racing last year and postponed her para-dressage this winter to focus on track. The Godiva athlete has already travelled across Europe in search for world class races, and competed at the Tunis International in March where Mel’s IPC classification in the T34 group was confirmed.
Two athletes from Ghana who used the University facilities as a training base in search for qualifying times earlier in the season returned for the competition. With Anita Fordjour now ranked 6th in the world and Raphael Botsyo inside the top 20 both achieved the A-Standards in Switzerland in May. Supported by the ‘Right to Dream’ charity, they are coached by a Loughborough graduate Alex Main and used to travelling two hours each way for their nearest track.
For more information about the Wheelchair Racing Academy please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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