Rio 2016: Silver for Blake, bronze for Rickham and world record for Kamlish as Games draw to a close
Training partner Sophie Kamlish was just six-hundredths of a second away from also getting on the podium on a day that saw her smash the T44 100m world record.
And University of Bath graduate Alexandra Rickham emulated her achievements from London 2012 as she and sailing partner Niki Birrell won bronze in the SKUD 18 two-person keelboat.
Blake went into the 800m final on a high after storming to his first Paralympic title a day earlier. He had also won 800m gold at the previous two IPC World Championships but faced an unknown quantity in Australia’s James Turner, who had only switched to athletics from seven-a-side football this year.
The Australian got off to a blistering start and incredibly maintained that pace throughout the race, coming home in a new world-record time of 2:02.39 – a new personal best by six seconds.
Blake, coached by Rob Ellchuk at the Sports Training Village, sat in second place throughout as he upgraded on the bronze medal he won over the distance at London 2012.
“To get a silver medal in my second Paralympic Games is just amazing,” said Blake, who clocked 2:09.65.
“Myself and my coach had a bit of race plan. He told me to go with him if he took it out fast although unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough.
“James absolutely smashed it – I got beaten at my own race today and he was much quicker than I was. Fair play to him, he ran really well so I can’t complain.
“It’s going to go off at the World (ParaAthletics) Championships in London next year. I’ll go back to the drawing board, train even harder than I have done. James is really quick so I’ll have to work even harder but the aim is to win two golds – fingers crossed.”
The last on-track athletics final of Rio 2016 saw Kamlish, also coached by Ellchuk, go into the start blocks fresh from set a blistering T400 100m world record of 12.93 in the heats.
The 20-year-old got off to a good start in the final but she was just ran out of the medals in the dying stages as Dutch sprinter Marlou van Rhijn came through to win gold in 13.02.
Kamlish’s time of 13.16 was her second-fastest ever and she said: “Fourth is pretty disappointing in the fact that if I’d been a bit faster I could have got a medal.
“But it’s the second fastest time I’ve ever run and I’m still happy to have the T44 world record so it’s not been a fruitless adventure to Rio.”
— C4 Paralympics (@C4Paralympics) September 17, 2016
A dramatic last day of sailing saw Natural Sciences graduate Rickham and partner Birrell finish fourth in the 11th and final race of the week to finish third overall, just one point ahead of race winners Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki of Poland.
The British duo also had to face an anxious wait in the protest room before the result was confirmed.
“We feel relieved – it’s been a long, very hard week,” said Rickham. “We came here to contest for the gold but that slipped away really quite quickly, and we’re just so happy to have got the medal.”
Birrell added: “To have two Paralympic medals is just surreal. Rio has been fantastic, we’ve really enjoyed it. We came for gold but we’re super happy with bronze because this week we’ve had to fight so hard in our boat for every metre and every position.”
A busy penultimate day of action at Rio 2016 saw former University of Bath-based swimmer Stephanie Millward win silver in the SM8 200m individual medley.
That was her fifth medal of the Games – she won gold in the S8 100m backstroke and women’s 4x100m 34pt medley relay, plus bronze in the S8 100m and 400m freestyle.