The GB Learning Disability Athletics Team has returned to the UK with four medals from the Inas Open European Championships, which took place in Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands last week [11-15 June].
The top two performers were 19-year-old heptathlete Martina Barber who took gold in the heptathlon and sprinter Marcel Hodge (pictured) who took silver in the 200m and bronze in the 100m. Declan Manning from Suffolk also claimed a bronze in the hammer throw with a new personal best (PB).
Team GB head coach, Paul Burns, said: “Martina had a fantastic performance and broke her personal best by a huge margin. What a showing by Declan as well. They have been on the team for four years and have improved every year and they’re only getting stronger. It’s nice to see our athletes come through with medals. We also had a number of athletes who made the finals of their events and achieved their PBs.”
This year’s Championships featured a competitive field of athletes from across Europe, featuring 19 countries and 152 athletes. The team was selected and managed by the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability (UKSA) and was made up of 9 athletes.
Athletes with learning disability are classified as T20 for track events and F20 for field events and many of the performances put the athletes in contention for that category at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.
UKSA chief executive, Tracey McCillen, said: “Congratulations to the medal winners. It’s always rewarding to see talented British athletes reach the podium. I would like to give a special word of thanks to the four staff members who offered their support to the athletes in the Netherlands.”
Full results for the team were as follows: • Martina Barber (Stevenage) won gold in the women’s heptathlon, setting new personal bests in the 100m hurdles, high jump, javelin and 800m • Marcel Hodge (Leicestershire) took home silver in the men’s 200m (23.06) and bronze in the 100m (11.43) • Declan Manning (Suffolk) placed third in the men’s hammer throw with a personal best throw of 30.79m • Chloe Knight (Lancashire) set new personal bests of 4.80m in the long jump and 9.00m in the triple jump • Holly Durbidge (Lowestoft) placed fifth in discus (21.32m) and 200m (28.72), as well as sixth in the 100m (13.83) • Aidan Turnbull (Tyne and Wear) placed fifth in the men’s 100m (11.85) • Owen Miller (Fife) placed fifth in the men’s 1500m (4:05.33).
The team was led by team manager and head coach Paul Burns (Barrow-in-Furness), along with GB coaches Christine Galloway (Halifax) and Tommy Patterson (Glasgow) who was selected to take part in the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay. The physiotherapist was Nicola Tennant (Glasgow).