Rio Paralympian Greta Streimikyte put in a season’s best performance on the opening night of action at the Para Athletics World Championships to place fourth in the final of the women’s T13 1500m. The Clonliffe Harriers athlete ran a tremendous race maintaining pace with the leading trio throughout to cross the line in 4:47.54. The race was won in impressive fashion by Moroccan Sanaa Benhama in a lifetime best of 4:40.40, surprisingly beating reigning world and Paralympic champion Somaya Bousaid into second with Rio silver medallist Najah Chouaya of Tunisia taking bronze just 1.4seconds ahead of Streimikyte.
Speaking after the race Irish team manager James Nolan; “That was an extremely brave and aggressive race by Greta. She put herself in all the right place; she is just amazing at executing a race plan. Running a season’s best in a major Championships after a difficult year that was interrupted by injury to be just 1.4seconds off a medal demonstrates just what a big future Greta has ahead of her.”
Streimikyte herself was pleased with her performance; “I’m happy that I was in the race all the way. It makes me believe that with an injury free year I can make more progress and challenge for podium positions. That race gives me confidence in my ability.”
Earlier on reigning World champion Michael McKillop got the Irish challenge underway winning the opening heat of the T38 800m in 2:07.59 to advance to Sunday night’s final. The race wasn’t without incident however; Velasquez of Columbia led from the gun and on world record pace at 400m dramatically dropped out running off the track to leave McKillop with a clear run to the line ahead of the second automatic qualifier Louis Radius of France. Notably both winners of the remaining two heats set regional records in doing so; Canadian Liam Stanley advancing as the fastest qualifier overall in a new North American record of 2:05.89, with Deon Kenzie winning the third heat in a new Australian record of 2:06.88.
Afterwards Irish team manager James Nolan reflected: “A very unusual race with the Colombian going off at World record pace and then dropping out at halfway. The only logical explanation being he was asked to do this by his team in the hope that Michael would take the pace and in turn affect his race in the final as a result. Michael has far too much experience to be sucked in by such unusual team tactics and secured qualification always in control.”
McKillop himself was unfazed: “I was nice and comfortable out there and did what I had to do.”
Tomorrow ‘the silver sisters’ from Rio; Niamh McCarthy and Orla Barry fly the flag for the Irish. McCarthy is first out in the final of the F41 Discus beginning at 10am with fellow Cork native Barry contesting the F57 Discus final beginning at 7pm.
More than 1,100 athletes from 95 countries will compete over the ten days (14th – 23rd July) at the London Olympic Stadium with over 250,000 tickets already sold making it by far the biggest in the event’s history.
Paralympics Ireland will provide a media service for the duration of the Championships with daily press releases and all results live on Twitter. Sportsfile will be syndicating images daily reproduction fee free with further updates on Facebook and Instagram. A comprehensive website with full schedule, results and a live feed is also available at www.paraathleticschampionships.com We also have a dedicated page on our website www.paralympics.ie/competitions Channel 4 in the UK will also screen 30 hours of live coverage over the duration of the Championships.
The Irish team is proudly supported by Flogas and Allianz; official partners of Paralympics Ireland.
Irish Team Results Day 1
Michael McKillop; Heat 1 of Men’s T38 800m, won in 2:07.61, through to final on Sunday
Greta Streimikyte; Women’s T13 1500m, 4th in 4:47.54 SB
Irish Schedule for Day 2
10am; Niamh McCarthy in F41 Discus final
7pm; Orla Barry in F57 Discus final
Irish team for 2017 Para Athletics World Championships, London 14th – 23rd July
Jason Smyth, City of Derry AC, T13, 100m & 200m Profile
Michael McKillop, North Belfast Harriers, T37, 800m & 1500m Profile
Paul Keogan, Cushinstown AC, T37, 200m & 400m Profile
Patrick Monahan, Le Cheile AC, T53, 800m & 1500m Profile
Niamh McCarthy, Eagle AC, F41, Discus Profile
Orla Barry, Leevale AC, F57, Discus, Profile
Noelle Lenihan, North Cork AC, F38, Discus, Profile
Deirdre Mongan, F53, Shot Put, Profile
Orla Comerford, Raheny Shamrocks, T13, 100m, Profile
Greta Streimikyte, Clonliffe Harriers, T13, 1500m, Profile