Para-athletics Sprint Preview: Golden aspirations


This article originally appeared on – home of Athletics Australia:

T35 100m

At the Commonwealth Games trials, Isis Holt (Vic) showed she has a liking for the Carrara venue, breaking her own T35 100m world record with a time of 13.37. A few weeks after, at the Australian Junior Championships, she again broke her 100m world record – this time to 13.36. There’s a strong chance the precocious 17-year old Paralympian will continue her record-setting ways when she takes to the track in women’s T35 100m on Wednesday 11 April with teammates Brianna Coop (QLD) and Carly Salmon (NSW).

Coop ran a great series of sprints at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships. In the 100m she was just off the podium in fourth in a personal best mark of 15.30. She repeated that performance in the 200m, with another personal best for fourth place.

Salmon was shattered when she missed selection for Rio. A few months after the Games, she spoke of her disappointment and had thoughts of quitting Para-Athletics.

But she was determined to return to the national team, and she did in 2017, selected for the London World Para Athletics Championships. Competing in the T35 100m and 200m, she placed sixth with the highlight a personal best of 15.92 in the 100m.

With her sensational form in London and a total of eight qualifying marks, Salmon earned a place on the Australian team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the T35 100m.

Maria Lyle (Scotland) will challenge the Australian contingent, with a personal best of 13.90, the 18-year old Paralympic bronze medallist has competed regularly against Holt and Coop on the international level.

T38 100m

A mixture of international experience and exciting new talent, Rhiannon Clarke (WA), Erin Cleaver (NSW), Ella Pardy (WA) will give Australian athletics a high-speed trio to cheer for, as all three women enter the meet as top-ten seeds.

At the Rio Paralympics Pardy, slipped to sixth in the 100m, but proudly assisted the Australian 4x100m relay team to bronze. The next global meet for Pardy was the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships where she placed sixth in the 100m and fifth in the 200m.

As one of the quickest T38 100m sprinters in Australia, she was in a good position for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Her second place amongst T38 sprinters at the trials and eight qualifying marks locked up her selection for the Games.

Cleaver, only 17, was in tremendous form over the summer of 2016/17 breaking the Australian open record with a leap of 4.62m. Selected for the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, Cleaver claimed her first individual global medal in the long jump. She won silver in the T38 long jump with a distance of 4.61m.
Her medal in London earned her automatic selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the T38 long jump and eight CG B qualifiers secured selection in the T38 100m.

Last summer Clarke came on the radar for Commonwealth Games selection when she clocked 14.00, a CG B qualifier in the T38 100m. After a winter of training in 2017, she seemed unstoppable clocking six more CG B qualifiers, including a best of 13.81 in November in the lead-up to the trials. 

She was in scintillating form at the Carrara stadium on the Gold Coast, clocking two consecutive PBs of 13.71 then 13.60 in the final to place second overall in the ambulant 100m. At just 15, she was named in the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games.

Sophie Hahn (England) arrives on the Gold Coast as the reigning Paralympic and World Para Athletics champion, taking gold in Rio and London. Hahn holds the world record in the T38 100m event, running 12.44, winning the 2017 World Para Athletics title in London.

T38 100m

One of the most bemedalled and experienced team Australian members is Paralympian Evan O’Hanlon (NSW). The Sydney-based sprinter has five Paralympic and eight world titles. The 29-year-old came out of retirement in 2017 to win the world championships in London and qualify for the Gold Coast Games.

Tasmanian youngster Sam Walker made his international debut at age 14 at the inaugural IPC World Junior Para Athletics Championships in Switzerland. He competed in the sprints and long jump, winning bronze in the 100m and went one step higher on the dais in the long jump winning silver. He’ll have a much lighter program here at the Games.

The leading T38 100m sprinter at the 2018 Australian Championships, Walker was rewarded with a place on the Australian team for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Aged 15 years and 166 days he is the youngest male on the Australian track and field team.

O’Hanlon utilised the Sydney Grand Prix to prepare for the Gold Coast, running 11.21, whilst Walker has prepared via National Championship racing, recording a 12.30 performance on the Gold Coast.
Dyan Buis (South Africa) features as one of the top-seeded athletes. The current World Para champion over the 200m and 400m distances, Buis’ 11.37 season’s best in the 100m puts the 27-year old in contention for a podium place.

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