Australia’s fastest Paralympian Evan O’Hanlon (NSW) has overcome his bitter disappointment in Rio, after regaining his crown as the world’s fastest athlete with cerebral palsy.
O’Hanlon, who had famously remained undefeated in the 100m T38 until the Rio Paralympic Games, reclaimed the number one spot crossing the line in 11.07s (-1.6), ahead of China’s Jianwen Hu, who clocked in just millimetres behind.
Coming down to a photo decider, it was the Australian who claimed victory; a medal performance he claims as his career best.
“Coming into these World Championships, it’s the most pressure I’ve ever been under. Every other time in my career, I knew I could win from the start line, but after coming second in Rio, I had to prove that I am number one,” the 29-year-old said.
“To come in, to be able to perform on the big stage again is amazing. This is the best medal I’ve ever won.”
In winning gold, O’Hanlon has now become Australia’s leading medallist at the World Para-Athletics Championships, alongside Paralympic great Neil Fuller, with a record of 11 medals.
“To be able to follow in the footsteps of a great man like Neil Fuller is awesome. I never thought that I would get there in my career, that I’d be one of Australia’s top medal takers.”
Continuing Australia’s success on the track was James Turner (NSW), who put on another stunning performance to claim his second world title at this championships, in the 400m T36.
Turner put in every ounce of energy to win in a time of 54.27s, causing him to fall over with muscle spasms at the finish line.
“It feels good to have another win under my belt, but it’s very bittersweet because I’m quite disappointed with how I ran that race,” Turner said.
“I always thought I was going to win, but I thought I’d run it better tactically. I ran the first 350m way too quick. I felt fantastic, but I had no idea how fast I was going. In that last 50m, I had nothing left in my legs, I was stumbling towards that finish line, which wasn’t a good feeling at all.
Turner, who is competing at just his second international competition, will treat this as a key learning as he looks ahead to a promising career on the track.
“I have to learn to take it easy and not get carried away. With a little more experience, I’ll learn to cope with that.”
With an injured hamstring, dual Paralympian Torita Blake (QLD) managed to reclaim her world championship bronze medal in the 400m, and dedicated it to her grandfather who passed away just last month.
“I was running, aiming for a medal, and I got there. My grandfather passed away a month ago today, and I just wanted to do this for him,” she said.
“My hamstring has been playing up since the 200m, but I need to accept that not every day is going to be a PB day, and that’s okay. You get what you give on the day, and I’m glad I gave a medal-winning performance.”
Visibly in pain after the race, Blake, who also has a vision impairment, is mostly proud of not giving up.
“I could have stopped in the middle of the race and given up, but that’s not me. I don’t give up.”
Wheelchair racer Rheed McCracken (QLD) had a strong start in the 200m T34, finishing so close to silver that his bronze medal result came down to another photo-decider. McCracken finished in 27.81 (-1.5) behind the UAE’s Mohamed Alhammadi and four-time world champion Walid Ktila from Tunisia (27.14).
“We’ve been putting a lot of work into my sprints lately, but I wasn’t quite up there in the number one spot. I was coming in second for most of that race, but I could see in my peripherals that Mohamed was coming up on the side. I was hoping to be a bit closer to the finish at that point, but finishing with bronze is a pretty good way to end my Championships.”
In other results from day eight of competition, Sarah Edmiston (WA) finished in seventh place in the women’s F44 shot put, with a throw of 8.04m.
Australians at home can catch the action via a live stream at www.paralympic.org.au/ParaSportLive
To view races from today, visit www.paralympic.org.au/Para-Sport-Vod
Each video will be uploaded within 1-2 hours of the session’s completion.