Are you inspired?
Well you should be.
What an amazing two weeks of sport. The Olympics fortnight was brilliant with the most successful team Great Britain has ever had, but that was only the start of the incredible sport that followed.
The London 2012 Paralympics surpassed anything we could have imagined and the dwarf athletes were some of the stars of the London games. On the first day of competition in the women's 40kg weight class the first of the DSA members to compete took to the stage at the Excel centre.
Zoe Newson is only 19 years of age and was the youngest of the Team GB lifters, London was her first Paralympic games and she wasn’t there with a medal in mind, she would have been happy with a personal best lift and to experience the games in preparation for future events. What she actually did was push the best lifters in the world to make them perform in fear that this new young lifter would steal a medal from right under their noses.
Zoe started with a solid lift of 84kgs and set the standard for the rest of the field, she followed that with an 88kg lift which was disallowed due to not properly locking out her arms, Zoe’s coach felt it was good and so a protest was made but not upheld.
This gave Zoe’s opponents a chance to retaliate and she had to make her final lift to secure a medal. She went out and confidently lifted a new PB of 88kgs, winning the bronze medal for Team GB.
“I couldn’t believe it when I was told I’d won a bronze, I had to go and look at the scoreboard and even then I still didn’t believe it”
What a brilliant start to the 2012 Paralympics a first ever medal for British powerlifting from a female dwarf lifter.
And then the swimming started!
Of course we all held on to the belief that Ellie Simmonds and Matt Whorwood could recreate their success from 2008, who knew how good it would be.
With the American swimmer Victoria Arlen holding the world records for the 100m & 400m freestyle events it looked like the USA might be holding all the cards but Ellie had different ideas. In her first event she qualified strongly cruising into the final, knowing that the final would be different. She went out from the start to match Arlen stroke for stroke, and she did. Holding on to her up to the last 100m then stepping up a gear to push past Arlen and finish first in a new world record time of 5.19.17, five seconds faster than the previous record.
In the men’s 400m freestyle Matt Whorwood had set the second fastest time in the qualifying heats and faced a tough race, Matt went out from the start holding on to the lead group right from the off and as they pulled away from the chasing group he started to real in the top two, in the last 50m he really started to catch up to the leaders but didn’t quite have enough time to catch them and finished in third place He finished in a time of 5.11.59 a brilliant time and enough to secure him the bronze medal. Val Simmonds reported to us that Matt was very pleased with his time and his bronze medal
After a days rest Ellie fought her way to another Gold medal in the 200m Individual medley with an amazing new world record of 3.05.39. In a cat and mouse race Ellie kept up the pressure on her rivals through the first two stages of the race putting in two damage limitation lengths for Butterfly and Backstroke before unleashing her breaststroke to pull up on the rest of the field, then in the final turn putting in a magnificent final 50m freestyle to pull into the lead and win her second gold medal of the games.
In the men's 200m IM Matt Whorwood swam a beautifully measured heat to make it into the finals. He swam well with a
great Butterfly and freestyle leg to finish 5th in a time of 2.53.08. A really great performance which is sure to push him well up the world rankings. Next on the list for both Matt and Ellie was the 50m freestyle on Tuesday. Matt found it hard to keep up the pressure in the shorter race and did not make the final but still posted a great time of 33.91.
In the same 50m Freestyle event Ellie put in a solid performance in the heats to make the final which featured, Arlen and De Konning-Pepper who are both very strong in the short races. Ellie had the crowd behind her, as she walked out the roof was raised by the noise of the cheering. Her stroke rate was phenomenal and she finished in a time of 36.11 not a PB but good enough to secure her third medal of the week, this time having to settle for a Bronze.
Both Matt and Ellie had two days rest before their final event the 100m freestyle, the previous few days of racing could have taken its toll and as a nervous nation watched the heats both Matt and Ellie qualified for the finals in style. In the men’s final Matt held on the pack right through the first leg of the race and was beginning to make progress on the rest of the field but ran out of time to finish in a brilliant 7th place putting him in the top ten S6 class swimmers in the world. Ellie knew she had to swim a massive PB in the 100m final as the world record had fallen in the mornings heats, she went into the final as second fastest qualifier. Right from the beep the pace was incredible and as the whole field swam into the last 20m it was obvious the new world record was already under threat, Ellie touched second just behind Arlen who broke the world record for the second time that day, a fourth medal for Ellie in an incredible week of swimming.
Both Matt and Ellie swam so well during the Paralympics and between them won five medals, roll on Rio 2016 when we hope they will be doing it again.
In the field athletics Kyron Duke threw in the Shot and Javelin and had a great competition in both. He threw new personal bests in both events finishing in a good 5th place on the Thursday in the shot put and then the day after on the Friday took part in the most incredible javelin event ever held in a Paralympics why? Because the world record fell 6 times during the event and 9 out of the 10 athletes threw new personal bests, eventually the gold medal was won by Chinese athlete Zhming Wang with a massive 47.95m. Kyron followed his successful shot event with a new PB in javelin of 38.64m giving him an overall position of 8th place.
Last but not least of the dwarf athletes competing was Jason Irving a veteran of several international events he lifted in the men’s 60kg class, he lifted 163kg which is almost three times his own body weight . He finished in 8th place overall with the winner from Iran Nader Moradi lifting a massive 196kg.
All the membership of the DSAuk would like to say how proud we are of all the athletes who represented Team GB at the Paralympics. We hope to see more great dwarf athletes in Rio 2016!