David Weir claimed his first major international title since the London Paralympics as Great Britain won seven golds on day two of the IPC Athletics European Championships in Italy.
Weir showed his strength in the final 600 metres to win the T54 5,000m – the first of five events he has entered at this week’s event in Grosseto.
There were also golds for fellow wheelchair racers Mo Jomnez and Richard Chiassaro, sprinters Maria Lyle and Richard Whitehead and throwers Dan Greaves and Aled Davies.
Weir, 37, competing over the T54 5,000m distance for the first time this year, said: “I knew coming here I was in good shape and it’s all looking good for Rio.”
Jomnez – who is part of the Weir-Archer Academy, which the four-time London gold medallist runs with coach Jenny Archer – set a new personal best of 26.64 seconds to claim the T53 200m title, while there was also a new championship record and first major title for Chiassaro in the T54 200m event.
“It feels great,” said Jomnez, who won 200m bronze at last year’s World Championships in Doha. “It was a fast race – the field is getting really strong.”
British sprinters power to victory
After winning the T35 100m in 14.45secs, short of her own European record of 13.92, Scottish teenager Lyle accepted she will need to do more in Rio when she faces her Australian rival Isis Holt, the world champion and world record holder, who has a best of 13.57.
“I’m definitely happy that I’ve got my title again but I’m a little disappointed with how I ran it,” said the 16-year-old.
“I’ve got plenty of time before Rio to sort that out. It will be good to sort the mistakes out from my 100m to the 200m.”
Whitehead showed the work on his starts have been paying up with a perfectly-timed run in the T42 100m.
The London 200m champion made his customary late charge to win by 0.03 seconds from Russian Anton Prokhorov in a new championship record of 12.21 seconds.
“That probably wasn’t my best 100m race but it is about performing in the finals,” he said. “I knew a 12.2 would probably win it today.
“Myself and my coach Keith Antoine had done some work on the warm-up track before but I felt in cracking shape.”
Greaves retained his F46 discus title with a best throw of 58.15 metres, while Davies was just two centimetres short of his F42 shot put world record of 16.13m, beating the rest of the field by over two and a half metres.
Britain also claimed silvers on Sunday through Carly Tait (T34 400m), Isaac Towers (T34 400m) and Sophie Hahn (T38 200m), while there were bronzes for Ben Rowlings (T34 400m), Steve Osborne (T51 100m) and Kadeena Cox (T38 200m).
Meanwhile, German ‘Blade Jumper’ Markus Rehm, who wants to compete in both the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, easily won the T44 long jump event, leaping 7.98 metres, but it was well short of his best of 8.40m.