Josef Craig lands second world title in Montreal
British teenager Josef Craig scooped his second title of a dream IPC World Championships debut with S7 100m Freestyle gold on day five in Montreal.
The Brits continued their medal rush in Canada, with another two silvers and three bronzes to take their overall tally to 43 with two days remaining.
Craig has been one of the star performers on the British team, having set a world record to add the world S7 400m Freestyle title to his Paralympic crown then smashed his personal best to claim 50m Free silver behind teammate Matt Walker.
And nothing was going to stop the 16-year old from returning to the top spot of the podium over twice the distance as the Brit beat the 62 second barrier for the first time to take gold in 1:01.74.
Australia’s Paralympic silver medallist Matthew Levy gave Craig a run for his money, taking the lead with 25m to go before eventually being overhauled and touching for silver in 1:01.89 with Great Britain’s Jonathan Fox fifth in 1:04.02. Craig said:
“I’m really happy for it obviously but it was my second event coming into this competition. I’m not really a sprinter, I’m more of a long-distancer and it usually takes me a while for me to get into the race. But I’ve been working with Mick Massey, Nic Rowley and my home coach Paul Robinson and I’ve managed to get better at all three of my events which I’m thankful for. Matthew was off like a bullet in that second 50m. I don’t know how he did it and I don’t know how I pulled it back either because with 25m to go, my legs felt like they’d fallen off and my arms were dead already. I don’t know what happened but I’ve been practising my finish vigorously and it must have seen me through.”
Steph Slater was also involved in a thrilling final on day five, winning S8 100m Butterfly silver as both she and USA’s gold medallist Jessica Long ducking under the old world record.
Slater took the race out and led at the turn before Paralympic and defending world champion Long managed to scrape ahead in the back 50m, touching in 1:09.79 ahead of the Brit’s new European record 1:10.12.
Having also set a European record to win SM8 200m Individual Medley silver earlier in the meet, Slater admitted she was determined not to swim her favourite event with no regrets.
“I just wanted to give it all in my last individual because it’s my favourite event,” said Slater, who is competing in her first international competition.
“I just thought I’d go all out in the first 50. I’m so happy with what I’ve done here because I’ve only been back in the water for eight months. I wasn’t ranked to get a medal in the medley so that silver gave me a lot more determination to get another medal in the fly. And I’m totally over the moon to get another silver and be under the old world record.”
Susie Rodgers continued her consistent IPC World Championship debut, landing her third silver medals of the meet.
Having won her first World gold as part of the 34pt 4x100m Freestyle quartet on day four in Montreal, Rodgers returned for the individual S7 100m Freestyle on day five.
And the 30-year old, who has also won Freestyle silvers over 50m and 400m in Canada, underlined her world class by clocking 1:13.03 to finish second again – just 0.91 seconds behind USA’s Cortney Jordan (1:11.75).
Nicole Lough impressed to claim bronze in her first IPC World Championship final.
The 18-year old had qualified second fastest from the heats and managed to hold her nerve in the final, clocking 1:20.30 to lift her first major medal.
James Clegg brought his debut IPC World Championships to a spectacular conclusion with bronze in the S12 400m Freestyle.
The 19-year old is usually known for his sprinting prowess and admitted he’d surprised even himself as he sliced three seconds off his British record to claim a first World medal in 4:21.76. Clegg commented:
"I didn't think I was fit enough to win a medal in that. I didn't think I was even fit enough to finish that race so I'm really happy, I'm not really sure how that happened. We've dabbled in the 400m a bit in training but while I expected drops in my time this season, I didn't expect it to come down that much."
Meanwhile, 17-year old Hannah Russell added to 50m Free, 100m Free and 100m Fly silvers with bronze in her S12 400m Free.
Also competing at her debut IPC World Championships, the Brit clocked 4:50.23 to take her personal medal tally to four with her favourite event – the 100m Backstroke – still to come.
James Hollis and Scott Quin both set British records as they finished fifth in their first World finals.
Hollis, who finished fourth at the 2011 European Championships, clocked 59.28 in his S10 100m Butterfly final while Quin was just 0.2 seconds shy of bronze as he touched in 1:08.81 in the SB14 100m Breaststroke final.
Aaron Moores (1:11.38) and Dan Pepper (1:11.83) were also in the SB14 100m Breast final, finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
James O’Shea was narrowly beaten to the podium in his first IPC World Championship final as he finished fourth in the SB5 100m Breaststroke.
The 35-year old took the race by the scruff of the neck, charging out to lead at the turn on 45.75 before being overhauled on the back 50m, eventually touching 1.64 seconds shy of bronze on 1:39.95.