The IPC European Athletics Championship got underway on Tuesday, as elite Paralympians from around the continent got together for a festival of athletics in Swansea.
More than 550 athletes descended on South Wales, all with one collective goal driving them towards glory—the chance to claim a gold medal.
Here, we assess the daily headlines from the IPC European Championships and bring you updates on which athletes secured which medals across the four days of action.
Day 5 Recap
Saturday saw the curtain come down on the IPC European Athletics Championship in Swansea, Wales, and it’s safe to say that the continent’s elite Paralympians have put on quite a show for us.
Five days of thrilling action has seen 168 gold medals go up for grabs, with Russia topping the charts by some distance at the end of the competition, as we see below:
While the Russians have been excellent throughout the IPC European Championships, Great British athletes have also played their part in a fiercely contested competition.
The hosts took 16 golds over the course of the week, putting on some brilliant performances reminiscent of their fabulous London 2012 campaign.
However, Britain couldn’t quite cap the European Championships with a strong final day, claiming just one gold medal, but there were still plenty of positives to take from Saturday’s action.
Aled Davies Powers his Way to Gold
Having already won the shot put gold medal on Thursday, Welshman Aled Davies came into the F42 discus final as firm favourite—a tag he more than lived up to.
In the field of six strong athletes, Davies blew away the competition with a throw of 46.46 metres—beating silver medal winner Tom Habscheid by almost five metres.
It was phenomenal effort from the home favourite, who actually came perilously close to breaking his own world record on Saturday—missing out by just two metres.
However, victory was enough to keep him satisfied, and speaking after receiving the gold medal, Davies reflected on a good day’s work—per IPC Athletics:
After watching Dan Greaves throw a big one yesterday I was hoping I might get a good tail wind but the wind seemed to be coming towards me and the discus was going backwards. I can’t complain too much—I’m chuffed with the second gold medal and the crowd were incredible. I saw so many faces I recognised and I’m an athlete who thrives off a good crowd and a good atmosphere—it’s great that people have come out to support British athletes at an event like this.
The 23-year-old is showing more and more brilliance with every competition he takes part in, and his gold was the perfect way to round off what’s been an excellent campaign for Team GB.
The loyal Welsh crowd have roared Britain on in every event, and as C4 Paralympics revealed, they were quick to show their appreciation for the British heroes as the tournament came to a close:
Elsewhere, in the final event of the European Championships, Great Britain set a new record in the T35-38 women’s 4 x 100 metres, claiming a silver medal in the process.
As British Athletics revealed, Olivia Breen, Sophie Hahn, Bethy Woodward and Jenny McLoughlin set the new time, but narrowly lost out on the gold to Russia.
That’s been the story of the European Championships due to Russia’s superiority, but Britain can take endless positives out of the competition.
There have been some outstanding efforts over the last week, and with Rio 2016 on the horizon, Swansea may well have unearthed a few future Olympic champions.
Day 4 Recap
Team Great Britain had a spectacular outing on Day 4 of the 2014 IPC European Athletics Championships, dominating the competition to overtake Germany on the medal table.
The team brought in five gold medals in total and was a fixture on the podium throughout the day, a welcome sight following two days of disappointing performances.
The updated medal table:
For the full medal table, visit Paralympics.org by clicking here.
Joanna Butterfield started the day with a bang for team Great Britain, setting a new European record to win the Women's club throw F32/51 final.
As shared by C4 Paralympics, Butterfield led an all-British podium in the event:
Her throw of 17.68 meters gave her an advantage of more than three meters over the other F51 athletes, with Josie Pearson and Gemma Prescott taking the silver and bronze medal.
Britain's success didn't end there. Not to be outdone by Butterfield, discus thrower Dan Greaves continued his excellent 2014 form by winning the gold with another European record.
Greaves was the only F44 athlete to clear 60 meters, with a best throw of 62.34. The European Gold was his second gold medal of the summer following the Commonwealth Games, and he couldn't hide his enthusiasm when he thanked everyone via his personal Twitter page:
Totally GOBSMACKED!! Amazing to add European Gold to Commonwealth Gold with a PB!! Thanks for all your lovely messages!!— Dan Greaves (@DiscusDan) August 22, 2014
Fellow discus thrower Aled Davies was more than just impressed with Greaves' sensational throw:
Wow... @DiscusDan take a bow son. Unbelievable! 62.34m!!— Aled Davies MBE (@AledDavies2012) August 22, 2014
Hannah Cockroft and Melissa Nicholls dominated the women's 800 meters T34 final, with the former narrowly beating her British teammate in the sprint. The pair opened up a huge lead over the rest of the pack but were still tied going into the final straight, before Cockroft unleashed a devastating jump to make good on her role as favourite.
Stef Reid added another British gold in the women's long jump T44, and while her distance of 5.32 meters fell well short of the world record mark pundits were expecting the 29-year-old to break, she told C4 Paralympics she was still satisfied with her performance in the final:
Stef Reid: "I want to be in a position where the other competitors expect me to win... Four legal jumps and two fouls is great for me."— C4 Paralympics (@C4Paralympics) August 22, 2014
Jomni Moatez finished the men's 400 meters T53 final in second place but was given the gold after winner Pierre Fairbank was disqualified for a lane violation, capping off an excellent day for Team GB.
While the gap with the Russian team is insurmountable, Great Britain took a commanding lead over Germany going into the last day of this year's championships thanks to a spectacular day from all of the athletes involved.
The 2014 IPC European Athletics Championships will end with 23 more finals on Saturday, including the highly anticipated relay races.
Head to IPC Athletics for the full Saturday schedule.
Day 3 Recap
Thursday saw 38 gold medals go up for grabs at the IPC European Championships in Swansea, as the continent’s elite Paralympians battled it out once again.
Host nation Great Britain didn’t have the best of days on Wednesday, with Russia cementing their dominance at the top of the medal table ahead of them, and Thursday was no different.
Team GB have now been overtaken by Germany after Thursday’s action, but some quite incredible stories more than make up for it:
Maria Lyle Earns Double Delight
British youngster Maria Lyle claimed her second gold medal of the IPC European Championships in Wales on Thursday, winning the T35 200 metres.
At just 14 years of age, one European gold is an achievement in itself, but Lyle can add her 200-metres title to the 100-metres crown she claimed on Wednesday.
Undoubtedly the queen of the T35 track, Lyle sprinted 200 metres in 31.05 seconds to destroy the field, finishing three seconds in front of silver medal winner Oxana Corso.
However, in spit of her dominance in the race, the young Scot was seemingly dissatisfied with the way that she went round—as BBC Sport revealed:
“I'm really pleased, even though the time wasn't as fast as I would have liked."
While Lyle is clearly a fan of winning the emphatic way, it’s impossible to pick apart such a solid performance on Thursday, and Women’s Running’s Christina MacDonald was one of many singing the youngster’s praises:
So impressed with 14-year-old sprinter Maria Lyle winning a Gold medal. 14?! What a way to spend the school summer holidays! One to watch…— Christina Macdonald (@ChrisWRmag) August 21, 2014
Showing such brilliance at such a tender age is almost scary, as who knows what incredibly achievements Lyle could go on to add to her CV.
For now, though, she can simply revel in the European glory—something she truly deserves.
Samantha Kinghorn Hat-trick
From one incredible, British teenager to another now, with Samantha Kinghorn claiming her third European gold medal of the competition on Thursday.
The 18-year-old wrapped up both the T53 400 metres and 100 metres titles on Day 1, and now adds the T53 800 metres to her personal haul—as C4 Paralympics revealed:
Kinghorn didn’t get off to the best of starts on her way to victory, though, but striking at the right time earned her the gold.
Turkey’s Hamide Kurt set the early pace ahead of Kinghorn, who just about managed to find a gap in the inside lane on the final bend as she powered to victory.
While a risky tactic, it certainly paid off, and Kinghorn spoke to IPC Athletics after her race and reflected on being on the right side of a daring gamble:
It was a pretty tough race today. I was trying to think how to get round her. I sneaked into the inside and was really glad to get through—it was quite scary doing it that way. I made a few sneaky moves out to the side which made her think I was going round. I had planned to do half the work but she really took most of the race until the final straight.
Likewise with Lyle, the sky is the limit for Kinghorn. Both athletes have shown in Swansea that they have what it takes to mix it among the world’s Paralympic elite, and they’ll certainly be doing so in Rio in 2016.
Friday will see another 31 gold medals go up for grabs in Swansea, and while Kinghorn and Lyle led by example on Day 3, a big step up is needed across the board by Team GB.
Head to IPC Athletics for the full Friday schedule.
Day 2 Recap
Day 2 of the IPC European Athletics Championships saw the competition enter full flow, with medals going up for grabs throughout the day.
Russia and Great Britain got off to a flying start on the medal front on Day 1, but Wednesday saw the Russians pull clear at the top of the leaderboard, as we see below:
Michael McKillop Lives Up to His Name
The top story of the day saw Ireland’s Michael McKillop claim gold in the T38 800 metres, further adding to his reputation as one of the greatest Paralympic, middle-distance athletes in the world.
The Irishman simply blitzed the four-man field after Serbia’s Peter Udovicic was disqualified, going round in a phenomenal time of one minute, 58.16 seconds.
While the gold was always expected to rest around the talented Irishman’s neck on Day 2, injuries over the last year-and-a-half limited his chances of glory—as IPC Athletics revealed:
That makes McKillop’s gold extra special and the man himself told IPC Athletics after his race that the feeling of victory was a relief:
To be able to come off the track after the difficult last 18 months I have had is great, I’m glad to be back. After the World Championships I got injured and I haven’t run the 800 metres for eight months before today so I was going into the unknown. I’m just glad I was able to run a quick enough time to win.
The double world and Paralympic champion isn’t finished there, though, as Saturday’s T38 1,500 metres could see him reap more European joy.
Should he claim a double in Swansea, it would be nothing short of what he deserves, being one of athletics’ true inspirations—something that South Dublin County Council’s Dermot Looney agrees with:
Well done @Mckillop21 - honoured to meet and speak with Michael a few months ago - a wonderful ambassador for his sport & country— Dermot Looney (@dlooney) August 20, 2014
While it was all smiles in the Irish camp thanks to McKillop’s brilliance, Team GB didn’t have the best of days on home soil after starting brightly on Day 1.
The Brits added just three gold medals to the four that they claimed on Tuesday, with Erin McBride winning the T13 100 metres, Mickey Bushell emerging victorious in the T53 100 metres and Maria Lyle rounding the day off with gold in the T35 100 metres.
Russia have now opened up a healthy gap between them and Great Britain at the top of the medal charts, but Day 3 could see the hosts close the gap.
Another day in which gold will be up for grabs throughout, Wednesday gives Britain the ideal chance to move closer to Russia with just a few days of action remaining.
Day 1 Recap
Day 1 of the competition saw 38 medals up for grabs, with displays of individual brilliance across several Paralympic disciplines stealing the headlines.
Several of the competition's flagship events took place on Tuesday, including the 100-metre race, and while Russia enjoyed the best of the medals on Day 1, Great Britain also had a fruitful day—as we see below:
Double Delight for Samantha Kinghorn
Scottish youngster Samantha Kinghorn put two gold medals on the board for Great Britain on Tuesday, winning the T53 400 metres and the T53 100 metres—as shared by C4 Paralympics:
Kinghorn didn't have to wait long to get her first taste of goal, with her 400-metres victory coming in just the fifth event of the day.
The 18-year-old thrilled the home crowd with an impressive display, going round in 1 minute, 4.84 seconds, ahead of Hamide Kurt, who had also made the final.
The achievement was special for the Scot, but doubly so considering it's her debut appearance in a Great Britain vest.
Clearly thrilled with her 400-metre gold, Kinghorn spoke to IPC Athletics after her victory to reflect on an impressive display:
It's great winning a gold medal in front of a home crowd and my family have travelled down from Scotland to see me race—it's amazing. The wind was behind me so I got a fast start. The lactic started to burn half-way but I managed to keep it going.
However, her work for the day was far from finished, and a matter of hours later, the 100-metres gold also rested around her neck.
The youngster simply dominated the race, crossing the line in 18.74 seconds for her second gold of the day—making up half of Britain's Day 1 haul.
Jonnie Peacock Up to His Usual Tricks
From the new kid on the block's success to a household Paralympic name, as Britain's Jonnie Peacock lived up to his tag as favourite in the T44 100 metres by romping to gold.
The world and Paralympic champion has been struggling with an injury over the last few months but showed no signs of weakness as he crossed the line in 11.26 seconds.
The European title now gives Peacock a clean sweep of titles—something he truly deserves, as Craig Spence of IPC revealed:
There's a certain pressure that comes with being the favourite in a European Championship event, but Peacock handled it perfectly and spoke to Channel 4 after his race to reflect on a dream day:
I was feeling a lot of pressure coming into this and being the favourite. It's a tough win but I'm happy with the win. Coming to the championship and taking home the gold is what it's all about. It was never going to be a fast time. The conditions here have not been enough to get fast times. I did make a mistake around 60m but I managed to fix it a couple of steps after that and just hold on.
Elsewhere for Team GB, Hannah Cockroft kept up the success for the host nation, with victory in the T34 100 metres.
The 22-year-old, known as "Hurricane Hannah," put together an impressive time of 18.53 seconds, with compatriot Mel Nicholls collecting bronze two seconds later.
Nicholls and Cockroft contributed to a total of 15 medals for Britain—just three behind the Russians, who occupy top spot on the medal table.
However, with plenty of opportunities up for grabs on Day 2, Team GB will be hoping to close the gap, and they certainly have a few prime examples to follow in their quest to do so.
Head to IPC Athletics for a full breakdown of Wednesday's schedule.