IPC Athletics: Josie Pearson wins discus gold at Worlds

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport in Lyon
Mixed feelings for GB discus pair

Britain's Josie Pearson won her first IPC World Championships discus gold in Lyon - but only after an anxious wait.

The Paralympic champion won the F51/52/53 event with a throw of 7.09m, beating her previous world record of 6.58m set in London last year.

But the 27-year-old from Hay-On-Wye had to wait for confirmation as the US team lodged an appeal about her equipment.

The US appeal was initially upheld but a GB team counter-appeal succeeded, leaving Pearson as champion.

Posting on Twitter, Pearson said:external-link "Unfortunately some people just can't be gracious in defeat. THE BEST ATHLETE WON fair and square! But this experience has made me stronger and I will bounce back as an even better athlete!"

Pearson's gold was one of four medals for the GB team with silvers for Dan Greaves (F44 discus) and Libby Clegg (upgraded from bronze in the T12 200m after the disqualification of a rival), and bronze for Kyron Duke (F41 shot).

Clegg finished third in the sprint for visually impaired athletes, but was promoted after the China's Guohua Zhou was disqualified.

There was also an outstanding performance from Brazil's Alan Oliveira in the T43 200m as he won in 20.76 seconds, beating Oscar Pistorius's world record of 21.30.

The double amputee, who is set to be the poster boy of the Rio Paralympics, famously defeated Pistorius over 200m at the London Games, and he celebrated this win by proposing live to his girlfriend on Brazilian television.

"I've been training hard to run below 21 seconds and I've managed it," he told BBC Sport. "I'm training even harder and pushing myself.

"This year shows how good and how fast and how strong I am. I'm delighted to show that to the world and ready to win the 100m. I'm pretty sure that if Oscar was here I would have beat him anyway."

Earlier in the field events, Pearson's gold medal was in jeopardy after the American team claimed she had used an illegal substance on her hand during the competition, and that the discus she used was not available to other competitors.

"Josie has used the substance, which she is entitled to do, for the last 18 months, including in London," explained GB head coach Paula Dunn.

"Thankfully the panel saw sense but it has been a very stressful time. I think it shows bad sportsmanship but we now have to move on and not let it overshadow the great performance she put in."

Pearson, who broke her back in a car accident in 2003, played wheelchair rugby for GB at the Beijing Paralympics and competed in track racing at the last World Championships in New Zealand two years ago.

But she has found her niche in the throwing events and will also compete in the club throw on Wednesday.

After her competition and before the controversy erupted, she told BBC Sport that she knew a world record was on the cards in Lyon

"I knew I could do it under the right conditions," she said.

"You don't take anything for granted going into any competition but I knew I had done a good winter's training after London and had prepared well.

"I had about six weeks off after London but then you get itchy feet and I wanted to get back into training because I knew the Worlds were coming up this year and I love competing," she said.

Her fellow thrower Greaves saw his world T44 discus title taken by American rival Jeremy Campbell.

The Briton struggled for consistency and could only manage 54.58m, with Campbell throwing a best of 58.86.

Some of the other British highlights included a championship record for 16-year-old Sophie Hahn in the semi-finals of the T38 200m, while fellow teenager Olivia Breen also advanced to the final.

Newcomer Lee Whiteley (T38 100m), Bethy Woodward and Katrina Hart (T37 200m), and Graeme Ballard and Ben Rushgrove (T36 100m) were also among those to advance to their finals.

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