11 September 2019
Redfern joins the party as Tai seals fab fourth in London
Alice Tai gritted her teeth, closed her eyes and ended Jessica Long’s decade-long hold on the S8 400m freestyle title at the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships in London.
Long, a 15-time Paralympic champion, led by nearly two seconds after 200m but Tai’s assault came from there, trimming 0.79 and then a full second off Long at the 300m mark.
It was a fourth World Championship gold in as many days for the prodigious 20-year-old, who has the chance to assemble a historic haul with the 50m freestyle tomorrow and 200m medley on Saturday
“I had to dig really deep,” said the south coast star.
“From the previous races, looking at her splits, I know that her back end is super strong, so I was honestly scared after I overtook her that she would just come back at me in the last length.
“I was gritting my teeth, closing my eyes and trying to dig in to get every ounce of energy out. I honestly didn’t expect to win that, so it’s a bit emotional for me. I’m kind of in shock.”
It was as easy as counting to four for Rebecca Redfern as she became the seventh Brit to be crowned world champion at the London Aquatics Centre.
The Paralympic silver medallist, 19, orchestrated another home triumph in the 100m breaststroke and brought another Championship record down with a 1:14.73 clocking.
The visually impaired athlete led after the first length and a searing final 20m took her to top step, all while repeating the same, simple formula.
Ellie Challis won bronze on her international debut for GB
“It feels amazing,” said Redfern, from the West Midlands.
“We’ve been working a lot on stroke rates, so I had that 1-2-3-4 in my head the whole way. I just kept that stroke rate and I think that helped me bring it back on the last length.
“I just decided to go for it in the last 20, if you’ve got in the tank just put it out there and I did.
“To be up there with the likes of Maisie (Summers-Newton), who have won gold already, is special and you have felt the atmosphere building.”
Redfern only led by 0.32 after 50m and USA’s Colleen Young threatened to make a move with 30m to go but the teenager added world gold to European silver in style.
Elsewhere Ellie Challis captured hearts and imaginations with a debut bronze in the S3 50m backstroke.
Challis, 15, shaved seconds off her personal best, having broken a European record in the heat of the 50m butterfly, and sealed a podium spot with a cushion of 1.12 secs.
“Going in being one of the youngest on the team, there’s no pressure at all,” she said.
“I didn’t feel any pressure and I just enjoyed the whole thing. This tops everything.”
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