Reardon & O'Hanlon World Champions

27-Jul-2013 12:00 AM

It has been an amazing day at the IPC Athletics World Championships, with the Australian Flame winning two GOLD medals in sensational circumstances.

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Ensuring a clean sweep of victories from three starts in Lyon, Evan O’Hanlon (NSW) was the first to taste success in the men’s T38 cerebral palsy 400m, before his training partner Scott Reardon (NSW) crossed in a dead heat in the men’s T42 leg amputee 100m to be deemed equal winner with Heinrich Popow (GER).
 
Competing in Lyon (FRA) only weeks after being hospitalised with viral meningitis, the five-time Paralympic champion O’Hanlon eradicated the stagger on the back straight to make light work of his rivals and enter the straight a clear leader, beforepushing to the line to cross in 50.55.
 
O’Hanlon is coached by Iryna Dvoskina, with his victory today now sitting alongside his equally impressive 10.93 run to take out the 100m and his time of 21.95 when winning the 200m.
 
“It is the result I wanted I suppose. It’s great to have three gold medals and to know that I can compete like this after such a hampered build-up. Of course I would have liked to run a bit quicker, but realistically that would have been asking too much of myself in such a short time since hospital and I am proud that I have been able to perform as I have,” O’Hanlon said.
 
“It has been a long week. I have had one race after the other, and coming into today I thought I would really struggle to get around. It hasn’t been as comfortable as I would like it to be and I think that makes the medals all the more rewarding.
 
“Today with the wind I knew the back straight would be easy with a pretty nice tailwind, but then coming home the conditions would be very hard so I didn’t expend myself too much in the first 200m, just enough to make up the stagger, and then had enough in the tank to come home.”
 
Born and raised in Sydney, O’Hanlon, who has cerebral palsy as a consequence of a prenatal stroke, has spent much of his athletics career on scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. A two-time Paralympian, he has now won sevenworld titles and a further three medals from three appearances at the IPC Athletics World Championships.
 
Tim Sullivan (Vic) was also a finalist in the men’s T38 cerebral palsy 400m today, with the ten-time Paralympic gold medallist clocking a season best time of 54.41 to place 5th overall.
 
Dubbed the best head-to-head race of the championship, the showdown between Reardon and Popow exceeded expectations. 
 
Coming out of lane five and six, Reardon took an early lead before Popow surged at the line to see the duo cross neck-and-neck. Forced to endure the seemingly lifetime long wait on track, Reardon was left wanting after his time of 12.68 (w: -2.2) was deemed equal to that of Popow but in the photo the German had the smallest of leads. At the request of Australian Team Management the decision was reviewed, however, with the Photo Finish Judge adjusting his decision to see both Reardon and Popow awarded gold and the event declared a tie.
 
“0.03 seconds separated Heinrich and I coming into this championship in terms of personal best, and today we can’t even be split. The last three races we have been in we have been separated by a total of 0.05 seconds highlighting how good this rivalry is,” Reardon said.
 
“I could feel him coming, and with about 20 metres to go a little bit of air came into my leg and I probably let it go to my head a bit. It’s one thing to run quick, but another to capitalise on an opportunity and that’s what Heinrich did. It’s a credit to him for bringing us this close.
 
Ever the humble athlete, Reardon also took time to offer his congratulations to O’Hanlon.
 
“I have to give my training partner a shout out too. I have learnt a lot of him in the past four years and his success here is a testament to his work and he has taken his T38 class above and beyond what it has ever been. Hopefully the two of us can do something similar in this T42 class in the future,” Reardon added.
 
Acknowledging how much of a fantastic opponent Reardon is, Popow admitted that to stay on top he has work to do.
 
“I always said that I am the old man of this race, and as the young guy he is pushing me every step of the way. Since the Paralympic Games I have said to my coach and the team behind me that he is coming, that he has an amazing running technique and that he will more than likely beat me here in Lyon,” Popow said.
 
“If he keeps running like this then I need to train harder than I ever have to stay in front of him because at the rate of his improvement, considering he has only been in the sport for four years, he will be beat me more often than not soon”
 
Reardon has been competing in athletics for four years after losing his leg in a farming accident as a teenager. He is based in Canberra, and originally comes from country New South Wales.
 
The Australian Flame’s only finalist in the morning session on Day 7 was three-time Paralympian Louise Ellery (ACT), with the 36-year-old improving on her disappointing 14th place in the club throw to finish 6th in the women’s F32/33/34 shot put. 
 
Initially frustrated with her campaign at these IPC Athletics World Championships, Ellery realises that surgery post-London 2012 prevented a complete preparation and that she will in time be back on top, just as she was when she won silver at last year’s Paralympic Games.
 
“I wasn’t happy with the performance at first, but considering injuries in the build-up and very hotconditions I am starting to appreciate how I went. To make it through to final had me stoked,” Ellery said.
 
“I’m not yet committed to Rio, I want to know that I can be back at the top of my event before I decide. I jokingly like to think that I am just giving the others a chance to win, but I think long term I will be able to regain the form I have had in the past and challenge again.
 
Ellery won the gold medal in the secured, or seated, shot put at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, and she has this advice for those seeking selection to compete as part of the para-athletics program in Glasgow (SCO) next year.
 
“You just have to do your best at every championship you attend. I believe in setting yourself a target above what is likely, strive for it as best you can, and then if your realistic aim happens it is not a bad result. Better to make a final and miss the medal you targeted than to not make a final at all because your goals were too low,” Ellery added.
 
Ellery competes in combined class throwing events, but she is defined as an F32 class after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 1998. An Australian representative at three Paralympic Games and the last two IPC Athletics World Championships, she is the Oceania and Australian record holder for both the F32 shot put and the F32 discus throw. 
 
In other results on Day 7 of the IPC Athletics World Championships:
- Missing a bronze medal by just 0.02 seconds, Richard Colman (Vic) clocked 3:09.66 to finish fourth in the men’s T54 wheelchair 1500m. His program continues with the marathon on Sunday.
- Closing out his track campaign, dual Paralympic silver medallist ran a personal best of 54.37 to place 5th in the men’s T37 cerebral palsy 400m. Scott’s start in the event is his first since the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch (NZL) two years ago and sits alongside the silver he won behind Michael McKillop (IRL) in the 800m on Monday.
- Surging from the line in the men’s T54 wheelchair 100m final, Sam Carter (Qld) and Matthew Cameron (Qld) finished 5th and 7th in times of 15.07 (w: -1.6) and 15.16 respectively. They will both now prepare to travel to London (GBR) for the para-athletics program to be held as part of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games this Sunday.
- Australian Flame debutant Nicole Harris (NSW), who is coached by Karyne Di Marco and Breanne Clement, placed 6th in the final of the women’s F20 shot put for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Sydney-sider threw a best mark of 10.63m, with her series also including a throw of 10.37m and four fouls.
- Carly Salmon (NSW) and Erinn Walters (ACT) both competed in semi-finals of the women’s T35 cerebral palsy 100m, with the duo clocking 35.87 (w: -3.8) and 37.00 (w: -3.2) respectively to progress to the final tomorrow.
- The winner of three silver medals at these IPC Athletics World Championships, Angela Ballard (NSW) has advanced to the round of eight for the women’s T53 wheelchair 400m, her favourite and last scheduled event, after she crossed the line second in 58.89 in her semi-final.
- Rheed McCracken (Qld) will compete in the T34 wheelchair 400m final for athletes with cerebral palsy after he won his semi-final in a time of 53.35.

By Athletics Australia

Topic: Sports

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Tim Mannion
General Manager, Communications

tim.mannion@paralympic.org.au

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