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Paralympic stars make history with gong haul
10:13am Friday 7th September 2012 in Weymouth and Portland Sailing Olympics and Paralympics 2012 News By Laura Kitching
Buy this photo Helena Lucas, right, with Niki Birrell, left, and Alex Rickham
GOLDEN girl Helena Lucas made history by winning Britain’s first Paralympic sailing medal – and its first ever gold.
It came on a day when ParalympicsGB sailors also bagged a bronze medal, and Dorchester athlete Paul Blaze won bronze in the T36 800m.
Lucas, of Portland , was the only woman in the 2.4 metre keelboat class. She was in gold medal position going into the final race yesterday – but a lack of breeze in Portland Harbour meant no sailing was possible, ensuring the gold went to Great Britain.
Britain hadn’t won a full Paralympic sailing medal since the sport joined the full Paralympic Games programme at Sydney 2000.
The Sonar team received a four-point penalty on Wednesday for an incident which involved team bosun Simon Hiscocks wiping the boat’s keel while it was out of the water on Tuesday when he had been asked by a measurer not to do so.
This meant the trio dropped from bronze-medal position to fifth place and when racing was cancelled yesterday their chance for a comeback was snatched away.
British team manager Stephen Park vowed to ‘fight until justice was done’ through the Court of Arbitration for Sport and International Paralympic Committee. He said: “Of course we're delighted for Helena and Niki and Alex and gutted for John, Hannah and Steve and I think if I’m honest that really overshadows it.
“I feel we’ve been robbed of a medal which as a team we’ve worked incredibly hard for.”
Sonar helm Robertson, 40, of Castletown claimed the penalty was ‘over the top.’
DORCHESTER’S Paul Blake picked up his second medal of the 2012 Paralympic Games in the 800 metres.
Blake, 22, of Charlton Down , continued his success in the competition by clinching a bronze in the final of the men’s T36 800m last night. It came after he won silver in the men’s T36 400m.
World champion Blake, who has cerebral palsy, tracked his rival, the Russian Evgenii Shvetcov, for the first lap last night and then went ahead with 300 metres to go, but Shvetcov had plenty in reserve, quickly passing him again.
Blake was passed by another Russian, Artem Arefyev, on the final bend and ran out of strength down the home straight, but he was well clear in third to come home in 2mins 08.24secs.
He said: '”The race went exactly to plan, but I was a bit tired after the 400m on Tuesday night. I kicked early and he (Shvetcov) just caught up with me with 200m to go.”
There were shouts of ‘Come on Paul’ as Blake took to his blocks and he was roared round the track by deafening cheers in the packed Olympic Stadium.
The Briton’s performance wrote yet another chapter in an incredible family story.
His actor father, also Paul, played bounty hunter Greedo in Star Wars, his mother, Kate, was a dancer with the Royal Ballet and his grandfather played tennis at Wimbledon.
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