27 February 2019

Blake wins double gold on track return at World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai

Paralympic gold medallist Paul Blake enjoyed double success on his return to the track with T36 400m and 800m victories at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai.

The 29-year-old took a year away from competitive racing in 2018, but showed no signs of rustiness on his comeback as he commanded the 800m final from start to finish.

Blake, a two-time Paralympian who won the T36 400m at Rio 2016, crossed the line in 2:10.71 ahead of Algeria’s Sid Ali Bouzourine in second.

The Bath-based runner then followed that up in the 400m on the final day of action as he clocked a time of 55.86 to once again edge out Bouzourine, who settled for silver.

Elsewhere on day two, fellow Paralympian Maria Lyle followed up her victory over 200m in the women’s T35/36 final on the opening day in Dubai with another win, this time in the 100m event.

The three-time Paralympic medallist overcame windy conditions to claim gold in 14.98 seconds, finishing ahead of German Nicole Nicoleitzik in second.

Despite facing an even stronger headwind, Sophie Hahn topped the podium in the mixed T37/T38 100m race after recording a time of 13.52 seconds.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist showed her class in her first race of the season as she got the better of German Lindy Ave and Japan’s Yuka Takamatsu.

Maria Lyle continued her strong start to the season in Dubai

Meanwhile, Andrew Small followed up his second place in the men’s T33 wheelchair 100m with victory in the T33 800m after finishing in 2:21.68.

A bronze medallist in the T33 100m on his Paralympic Games debut at Rio 2016, Small edged out Germany’s Denis Schmitz to continue his strong start to the season.

Away from the track, triple Paralympic champion Stephen Miller finished in second in the F32 club throw after throwing a mark of 30.69 metres with his first attempt.

The 38-year-old, who competed at his sixth consecutive Paralympic Games in Rio, was unable to better his opening effort as he finished behind Lahouari Bahlaz.

Algerian Bahlaz took top spot with a best throw of 34.17 metres, but Miller will take plenty of encouragement after improving on his 30.18m throw at the Sharjah meeting last week.

Miller only threw over that distance twice during 2018 and speaking after collecting his silver medal, he said: “[I’m] pleased with my work the last two weeks.

“Best start to a season for many years and still so raw technically and little speed work done. Time for some recovery before building on from this.”

Young GB star Conor O’Hare was also in field action, producing a season’s best mark of 7.90 metres in the F35/36 shot put as he placed fifth overall.

Day three then saw a British one-two in the men’s T33/51 400m final as Daniel Bramall crossed the line in 1:01.57 to take gold, 1.1 seconds ahead of compatriot Small.

And in addition to Blake’s second success on the final day of action, Taz Nicholls was triumphant in the men’s F11/44/64 discus final as his throw of 44.43m beat India’s Sharvan Kumar by 23cm.

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