British wheelchair star Hannah Cockroft collected the sixth gold medal of her illustrious Paralympic career by achieving the T34 100 victory in a world record time of 16.39 seconds.
The 29-year-old lowered her own world record by 0.18 seconds at Tokyo National Stadium, with compatriot Kare Adenegan in second place.
Silver medalist Adenegan, who finished in a time of 17.03, made the stronger start of the two before her dominant teammate came clear to claim first place on the podium once again.
Glory brought Cockroft closer to a long-term goal of surpassing the 11 Paralympic medals that Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson won between 1992 and 2004.
She can further close that gap in Saturday’s 800-meter final.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that time was inside me,” Cockroft said. “I knew Kare was going to move out of the blocks and I had to go with her to the best of my ability. She just got a good time out of me. It has been coming, it has always been hidden there, it only took a few years to show its face ”.
When asked about the possibility of spearheading the spoils of Paralympic racing great Gray-Thompson, he replied: “I’m halfway there and have been three Games. I’m 29 guys! I don’t know if I will be able to do another three Games. It is there, it is in the distance. This sport has changed a lot since Tanni. She left a legacy, we just have to keep attracting more young girls to the sport. If I have to keep defeating them, great. “
Cockroft has established itself as one of the country’s most recognized Para athletes after bursting onto the scene with two golds at London 2012 and then adding another three at Rio four years later.
Since returning from Brazil, her profile has risen even higher as a presenter on the BBC’s nature show Countryfile, as well as an appearance on The Great British Bake Off. He recently claimed that cooking in front of celebrity chef Paul Hollywood was more overwhelming than competing in the Paralympic Games, but there are no signs of complacency in his day job.
The 12-time world champion set her own world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m at the World Paratletics Grand Prix in Switzerland in May and resumed her fascinating form in the Japanese capital.
She came in as the clear favorite as the only competitor to have fallen below 17 seconds this year. Adenegan seemed to be the biggest threat to the crown and so it turned out. The 20-year-old from Coventry, competing in the adjacent lane, gave her British compatriot a huge scare by flying off the blocks before finally getting checked as she settled for second place and the best of the season, which still he was significantly slower than her. Lifetime record of 16.80 seconds, set in 2018.
“There was definitely panic there,” Cockroft said. “The 100 meters, when you’re sitting on the starting line, they look so short. She went and I thought, ‘I don’t have enough time. I need 120 ‘. You just need to lower your head and move your arms.
“I had no idea how those girls were pushing, we hadn’t run together. He had competed with Kare once this year. It was a shock to everyone. “
Australian Robyn Lambird took bronze, more than 1.6 seconds behind Adenegan, with another GB athlete, Fabienne Andre, fifth with 19.14.
Adenegan said: “At one point I thought, ‘Wow, I could actually win this.’ That’s a good thing that’s driving me and next year we have a Commonwealth Games at home so we’ll see what happens there.
Away from the stadium, Lauren Steadman led the way when Great Britain collected a brilliant full complement of triathlon medals on day five. Former Strictly Come Dancing star Steadman improved the PT4 silver he won in Rio five years ago to PTS5 gold with a finish of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 46 seconds, 41 seconds ahead of American Grace Norman.
ParalympicsGB teammate Claire Cashmore completed the podium in that race in a time of 1:07:36, while fellow Brit George Peasgood won men’s silver in 58:55.
Steadman was a favorite for gold in Brazil five years ago, but was defeated by American Grace Norman after making a mistake in the swimming section. The 28-year-old took revenge for that painful experience, beating Norman by 41 seconds, with former swimmer Cashmore, an eight-time Paralympic medalist in her old sport, two minutes and 50 seconds off the pace after a one-minute penalty.
“That is a massive redemption. I was devastated after Rio, I was really destroyed, I didn’t go near my bike, my shoes or my bathing suit for seven months, “Steadman said.” My coach told me, ‘You haven’t finished yet and move on.’ . I put all my faith in him and he took me there. It has been unpredictable in the last four years, some races I have won, some I have narrowly missed.
“Before Rio, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and it really affected me. This time I knew the pressure was there, but because Rio was a terrible experience, I was determined to enjoy this no matter if I got a medal. When it hurt, I would think ‘this is what I built for.’
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism