It was a superb six medals for Welsh athletes at the World Para Athletic Championships in Dubai over the past week.
Aled Davies and Hollie Arnold retained their world titles in close encounters whilst Sabrina Fortune topped the podium for the first time after throwing a Personal Best and Championship record to win her first world title. Olivia Breen was the first welsh athlete to win a medal, bronze at the beginning of the week. With Harri Jenkins and Kyron Duke following in her footsteps to claim third in their respective events. Three Golds in the field and three bronzes has meant that the Welsh athletes medal haul accounts for 21% of the British teams medals.
It was a fourth consecutive Gold for Aled Davies (coach: Ryan Spencer-Jones; club: Cardiff)) in the F63 Shot put where he battled it out with Luxembourg’s Tom Habscheid but with a solid throw of 15.38 metres retained his title.
Aled said after his Gold medal win, “Fourth time – it’s very special – I think back to my first world champs in New Zealand in 2011 and I got fourth place at the age of 18, and now here we are, almost ten years later and we’re still on top of the world taking world records and winning gold medals. I’ve been dreaming too hard and too long to roll over and hand over titles. I had to fight for this one – I really did I dug deep and luckily I hung on by the skin of my teeth.”
Hollie Arnold (coach: David Turner; club: Blackheath & Bromley) also won her fourth consecutive Gold at the World Para Athletics Championship after a fantastic throw of 44.73m. The F46 javelin thrower won the title with not only a personal best but a Championship and European record too.
Arnold went ahead in round one with a throw of 40.87m but was knocked off the top until her third-round effort of 44.73m that earned her the Gold medal.
After winning gold, Arnold said: “I’m so happy, this season has been so, so long, so I’m really happy to go out there and get a PB and a gold medal. That’s what I wanted to do and I had a really good series as well.
“Title number four is just as special as title number one. It’s really hard when you come here as the defending champion, but I’m just so happy it’s over now and I can’t wait to get on that podium and get my gold medal.”
On the penultimate night in Dubai, Sabrina Fortune (Ian Robinson; Deeside) became the third Welsh athlete to win Gold. Fortune recorded a huge personal best of 13.91 to win her maiden title in style in a back and forth battle with Ukraine’s Anastasiia Mysnyk in the women’s shot put F20 final.
Fortune was ecstatic: “I’m over the moon. There are no words to describe how amazing that moment was. I burst into tears straight after that final throw. And because I was last, it meant nobody could take it [the gold] off me.
“After two long long weeks of being here, I wanted to throw long. This is the best outcome I could ask for. This is one of the days I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ll probably end up crying again when I go onto the podium. It’s a moment which will last forever.”
Harri Jenkins (Anthony Hughes; DSW Para Academy) reached the podium winning a Bronze medal in the men’s T33 100m. It was Jenkins first World Para Athletics Championships after winning the European Championships. In his breakthrough performance he pushed well to a time of 18.98s to get onto the podium.
Jenkins said: “It was really good. Obviously happy with the bronze. As I said before, it was going on form – I was going in third ranked in the race, but I just know I’m capable of so much more.I know I can do this, I know I can get there, I should be pushing with them guys, they shouldn’t be beating me like that, but I’ll get there next year, I’ll get there.”
There was a sixth career world medal for Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes; DSW Para Academy) as he sealed bronze in the F41 shot put throwing 13.82 metres in round two.
Duke went into the competition as World Record Holder and said: “It was a good competition. I was trying to adjust to the circle. I knew the throw was good on the second throw and it helped me to settle.
“I’m happy to be among the medals, that’s a good thing. It means I’m still there fighting, I’m still top three in the world and keep hold of the world record. The sky is the limit for me. It is a positive way to go towards 2020 now but there will be things to work on.”
Olivia Breen (coach: Aston Moore; club: City of Portsmouth) was the first Welsh athlete to compete at the Championships and started the winning off with a fantastic Bronze in the women’s T38 long jump.
After winning bronze, Breen said: “I’m really happy; after such a long season, it was great to have such a good competition. I just gave it my all. The wind was very frustrating, but I did the best I could in those conditions. There is nothing we could do so I just went for it.
“I came into this competition ranked third, so it means a lot to win the bronze medal. All the hard work has paid off.”
Jordan Howe (Kevin Williams; DSW Para Academy) gave it his all but could not match his silver medal from the World Championships in London two years ago as he came home sixth in 12.86s (0.4) in the T35 100m final finishing in sixth place. The race won in a world record 11.77s by Ukraine’s Ihor Tsvietov in a lightening quick race.
Disability Sport Wales, Performance Gemma Cutter “We’re very proud of the 7 athletes from Wales who represented GB out in the World Championships, to bring home 21% of the British Team medals is an incredible achievement for a small nation, ours sights are now set on Tokyo and our talented young people coming through the performance Pathway programme.”
Welsh Athletes Medal Tally:
Hollie Arnold – F46 Javelin
Aled Davies – F63 Shot Put
Sabrina Fortune – F20 Shot Put
Olivia Breen – T38 Long Jump
Kyron Duke – F41 Shot Put
Harri Jenkins – T33 100m