She claimed victory as a 14-year-old debutant at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and now Isis Holt (T35, Vic) has done it again.
Soaring across the finish line in the T35 200m final, Holt gave it her all to take out gold in 28.47s (+0.3), reclaiming the number one spot she had lost to China’s Zhou Xia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“I still can’t believe what’s just happened – I didn’t expect to run so fast. It was a little bit of revenge for me to win again, but more than that it was really great to come back after Rio and be able to keep this title,” said the Melbourne teenager.
“When I won the title in Doha, I remember not knowing what to expect and then in Rio, I was really results-driven which hindered how I performed. Here, I was determined to make sure my focus was on the processes that I’ve been working on for so long, and getting that right is an amazing experience.”
Beaming with excitement, Holt embraced her Australian teammates Brianna Coop (T35, Qld) and Carly Salmon (T35, NSW), who finished the race in fourth (32.00) and sixth place (33.66), respectively.
Holt was not alone in success for the night, with James Turner (T36, NSW) breaking the T36 200m world record in his heat, Deon Kenzie (T38, Tas) and Aaron Chatman (T47, Qld) each adding silver medals to the Australian tally, and Chad Perris (T13, WA) rounding out day three of competition with a bronze.
Breaking his second world record in just his second major international competition in Para-athletics, Turner ran his heat in 24.15s (+0.5), crossing the line more than one second ahead of his closest competitor.
While he hopes he hasn’t “burnt himself out before tomorrow’s final,” Turner said:
“When I heard the words ‘world record’, I was very confused. I looked up and thought, ‘What the hell?’ It gives me great confidence for the final. I really didn’t think I was going to do that.”
After blitzing his heat for the T38 800m on day one of competition, Kenzie was also impressive, crossing in 2:02.15 to set a new Australian record.
Kenzie, who competed in the same event at the previous world championships in Doha but fell to finish in seventh place, surpassed his own expectations, revelling in the opportunity to compete in the final, and against Irish superstar, gold medallist Michael McKillop.
“I put it all on the line early, which is what I set out today, and I couldn’t have put in more,” he said.
“It’s always a pleasure racing Michael, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s a world class athlete and hopefully one day I’ll get him.
“The crowd here is awesome, and it’s great to see London putting so much effort and energy into the Paralympic movement, and to have a crowd like this is absolutely fantastic,” Kenzie said.
Kenzie will race again on July 22, contesting the T38 1500m as reigning world record holder.
Vision-impaired Perris won bronze in the T13 100m final, clocking 10.96s – the exact time he ran two years ago in Doha.
Running in second place for most of the race, Perris crossed the line just 0.01s behind Poland’s Mateusz Michalski, who came second to four-time world champion, Ireland’s Jason Smyth.
“This was a real learning experience for Chad. There were four or five competitors in his race that could have won silver or bronze, but Chad came through to finish in third place,” said coach Iryna Dvoskina.
Australia’s only high jumper at the World Championships, Chatman put in a solid performance to land a podium step higher than his result in Rio.
Jumping 1.94m – just 0.05 off his season best – Chatman came painstakingly close to gold, before American Roderick Townsend-Roberts jumped 2.10m to win the title.
Making his international debut, former SANFL athlete Daniel Kirk (F44, SA) set an Australian record in the F44 discus, landing a throw of 52.16m to finish in seventh place.
Having missed out on selection for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Team, Kirk said he was not only grateful for the opportunity to compete on the world stage, but his result and the entire experience have made him hungrier to compete internationally again.
“I’m absolutely pumped to have broken that record, but more than that I was so glad to be present enough in the moment to compete well and take it all in,” Kirk said.
“To be there in my Australian kit, and to have people wearing the same colours in the crowd cheering me on was phenomenal.
“In the past when I’ve competed, I’ve found that I’ve often tried too hard to get a certain result, but I was able to stay relaxed. I came in wanting to put in solid results on the board, and I was able to do that.
“From this experience, I have more information on how I can improve myself, and I’m not intimidated of the gap between myself and my other competitors. I know I’m good enough and it’s certainly made me hungrier for Tokyo.”
Kurt Fearnley (T54, NSW) and Jake Lappin (T54, ACT) both competed in their heats and finals today in the T54 1500m.
While Fearnley placed third in his heat to automatically qualify for the final, his sixth place finish was a result he was admittedly unhappy with.
“I’m still trying to get my head around it. Sixth is where I came in Rio, but tonight the old arms wouldn’t fire up. I got a little bit of a run a bit late, a gap did open up, but 1500m you either win big or you lose,” he laughed.
“One thing though, this is one of the most beautiful stadiums I’ve ever raced in. This crowd is just crazy. London own the Paralympic movement, and what they show right here is incredible.”
Lappin placed 10th in his final, clocking a time of 3:17.14.
In other results, long jumper Nicholas Hum (T20, Vic) finished fifth with a jump of 6.78m (-0.1), and Jessee Wyatt (F33, Vic) came in sixth in the F33 seated shot put with a throw of 8.93m.
To view results and entry lists for the World Para-athletics Championships, please click here.
Australians at home can catch all the action live via www.paralympic.org.au/ParaSportLive
By Athletics Australia
Photo with thanks to Athletics Australia