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French team named for Swansea 2014

France have named a squad of 20 athletes and three guides for August’s IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, and it includes a number of world and Paralympic champions.

Marie-Amelie le Fur Marie-Amelie le Fur celebrates winning the women's 100m T44 at London 2012. © • Marcus Hartmann
By NPC France

Headlining the team is Mandy Francois-Elie, the 24-year-old T37 sprinter who last year won world titles in Lyon, France, over 100m and 200m.

Headlining the team is Mandy Francois-Elie, the 24-year-old T37 sprinter who last year won world titles in Lyon, France, over 100m and 200m. The 100m Paralympic champion is also the world record holder over both distances but in Swansea will compete over 100m and 400m T37.

Joining her is the 100m T44 Paralympic champion Marie-Amelie le Fur who, in Swansea, will not be competing over the shorter sprints but instead focussing on the 400m and the long jump, an event she won silver in at last year’s World Championships.

On the men’s side, Arnaud Assoumani, the two-time long jump world champion will be medal contender, whilst T54 wheelchair racer Julien Casoli will go head-to-head with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and Great Britain’s David Weir over all distances from 400m through to the 5,000m.

France will be one of 40 countries competing at Swansea 2014 which takes place between 18-23 August.

Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via the Swansea ticket website. Prices start from £3 per session.

The French squad in full is:

Timothee Adolphe, 100m, 200m, 400m T11

Jean-Baptiste Alaize, 100m, 200m, long jump T44

Arnaud Assoumani, long jump T47

Julien Casoli, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m T54

Jean-Baptiste Chirol, 1,500m, 5,000m T13

Pierre Fairbank, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m T53

Mandy Francois-Elie, 100m, 400m T37

Clavel Kayitare, 100m, 200m T42

Nantenin Keita, 400m T13

Marie-Amelie le Fur, 400m, long jump T44

Tresor Makunda, 100m, 200m T11

Sebastien Mobre, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m T34

Louis Radius, 1,500m T38

Moussa Tambadou, long jump T38

Elvina Vidot, 100m, 200m, long jump T11

Rose Welepa, discus, javelin F12


Alex Adelaide, 100m, 200m T54

Nicolas Brignone, 100m, 200m, 400m T53

Bacou Dambakate, 100m T13

Antoine Perel, 100m T12

Adam Bleakley named Paralympic Coach of the Year

Bleakley, the coach of the USA’s track and field squad, earned the accolade for helping the USA to 13 medals at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships.

Tatyana McFadden American Tatyana McFadden made history at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, winning gold in all six of her events. © • F-Perville

“It’s an honour to recognise these coaches for their impact on countless athletes from around the country."

The United States Olympic Committee has announced its annual award recipients for the 2013 National Coaches of the Year.

Adam Bleakney, track and field coach from Champaign, Illinois was named Paralympic National Coach of the Year.

A four-time Paralympian, Bleakney helped US athletes earn 13 medals at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France.

As head coach for the University of Illinois wheelchair track and field program, Bleakney played a key role in developing world champions Tatyana McFadden and Raymond Martin.

At the 2013 World Championships, McFadden led the US medal haul with a historic six gold medals.

Meanwhile Martin, the 2013 USOC Paralympic Sportsman of the Year, became the first man to win five world titles.

Overall, Bleakney coached nine athletes on the USA’s team, including men’s 800-metre T53 world champion Josh George and women’s 200m T53 bronze medallist Chelsea McClammer.

Following the World Championships, Bleakney aided McFadden in becoming the first to win the marathon grand slam with victories at 2013 London, Boston, Chicago and New York City marathons.

For his achievements, Bleakney was picked ahead of finalists Angie Bengtsson, who coaches table tennis and Brett Wolf, who coaches judo.

Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance, expressed his delight at recognising the hard work of the coaches.

He said: “It’s an honour to recognise these coaches for their impact on countless athletes from around the country.

“Their tireless efforts and dedication to helping athletes strive for excellence is an inspiration to all.”

The Paralympic National Coach of the Year is presented to a coach of an elite-level club, collegiate or national-level team, or the coach of an elite athlete who competes at the highest level of his/her sport.

National Governing Bodies selected their 2013 Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program.

Toni Piispanen sits up to target 400m gold in Swansea

Finnish wheelchair racer Toni Piispanen will enter August’s IPC Athletics European Championships as the Paralympic champion and world-record holder in the 100m T51 sprint, but has arguably made as many adjustments to his training this season as any other racer on the track.

Three wheelchair racers approaching the finish line on the track of a stadium Toni Piispanen of Finland on his way to winning the men's 100m T51 final during day three of the Lyon 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships © • Getty Images
By Stuart Lieberman | for the IPC

“The biggest question mark was the 400m, but so far, at this moment, it’s gone really well and I’m anticipating the European Championships.

Since winning gold at last year’s World Championships in Lyon, France, the 38-year-old has added the 400m to his programme on the road to Rio 2016 and switched coaches for the first time in his career.

“The biggest question mark was the 400m, but so far, at this moment, it’s gone really well and I’m anticipating the European Championships,” Piispanen said.

As someone who holds a master’s degree in sport science and works at the Finnish Society of Sport Sciences, Piispanen explained the adjustment to the longer distance was due to having to reposition himself in his racing chair.

“T51 racers have a high impairment, so it’s difficult to breathe at such a low position,” he said. “It took me about two years to learn how to breathe properly in a low position. After 100m, it’s hard to keep breathing in that position, so we moved my position higher for the 400m, and I’ve had to get used to it.”

With his former coach moving to the other side of Finland and having “given everything he had,” Piispanen picked up a newer, younger coach who is more into the power training and technological and scientific aspects of wheelchair racing.

Thus, the easy transition to the higher sitting position over 400m.

Training with a group of four other elite international wheelchair racers in Finland – including four-time Paralympic champion Leo Pekka-Tahti – certainly does not hurt.

Piispanen’s just about ready now for the IPC Athletics European Championships, which will take place from 18-23 August in Swansea, Great Britain, where around 600 athletes from 40 countries will compete.

The Helsinki native will treat the Swansea University track like a boxing ring, as he takes after Finnish boxing hero Amin Asikainen at major competitions.

“When he loses his fight it doesn’t matter because he’s ready to fight again,” Piispanen, a former karate fighter, said. “He never gives up, and I guess that’s my motto, too.”

Also a former wheelchair rugby player of 15 years, Piispanen is the world-record holder over 100m (21.11) and has raced the distance faster than anyone else this season, clocking a 21.42 at May’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix event in Nottwil, Switzerland. In Nottwil, he finished just ahead of two other former wheelchair rugby stars in Great Britain’s Stephen Osborne and Belgium’s Peter Genyn, who are also second and third, respectively, in the 400m world rankings this season.

“I was a little bit surprised by how fast Stephen Osborne was in Switzerland,” Piispanen said. “He had very good technique.

“But, I guess I’m still the favourite for Swansea,” Piispanen added. “Of all the races I’ve done in the last two years, I’ve won about 80 per cent of them, and I’m in top shape, satisfied and confident right now. So, Stephen has to beat me.”

Piispanen will be one of 600 athletes from 40 countries competing at the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships between 18-23 August.

Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via Prices start from £3 per session.

Toni Piispanen Lyon 2013

Toni Piispanen Lyon 2013

Davies targets 50m discus throw in Swansea

World and Paralympic champion determined to break his own world record in front of his home fans.

Aled Davies throwing a discus Aled Davies broke the world record in the discus throw at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Grosseto © • Luc Percival

“I’ll have lots of friends and family there and I’m a very patriotic man, so having it in Wales will be very special."

Welsh hero Aled Davies is hoping to reward his supporters at August’s 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, with a history-making throw of more than 50 metres in the discus F42.

Davies set a world record distance of 48.69m at May’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Grosseto, Italy, and now the proud Welshman insists another record is on its way.

And with a proven record of performing on the biggest stages, Davies, 23, says Swansea could be the place where he finally breaks through the 50m barrier.

He said: “I know I can do it. It’s coming. I’m biding my time, but I have a strong feeling that it’s going to happen when it matters most, which is the European Championships. It would be a nice place to do it!”

He added: “Last year I did my two best throws, and the world record, at the World Championships, and I did my best throw the year before in the Paralympic Games.

“There’s no reason why I can’t do that again, especially with the big crowd and the adrenaline. Just being in a big competition always spurs me on to perform better.”

A gold medal and a new world record in Swansea would certainly cap a remarkable 12 months for Davies.

In 2013 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, and in 2014 was named captain of the Welsh squad for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Prior to the 2014 season Davies underwent surgery on a long-standing foot injury, casting doubt on whether he would ever regain his best form.

But he has answered those questions in stunning fashion, and is now determined to keep pushing forward in his chosen disciplines of discus and shot put – especially in Swansea.

“You’ve got to take these opportunities to show everyone what you’ve got,” he said.

“You don’t get to go to big Championships every day, so I see them as my opportunity to show what I’ve got and what I’ve been working all year for. I thrive on it. I love the pressure, the crowd and the atmosphere – it really gets me going and I can’t wait to get involved.”

Victory for Davies in Swansea would also complete a remarkable treble, having already claimed gold at the Paralympic Games and World Championships.

He said: “This is the only medal I haven’t got and it would be nice to add it to the collection, but it’s not going to be easy.

“I’m the guy at the top, and everyone wants to beat me. It’s a tough position, but it’s something I’ve got to contend with and I’m learning every day how to deal with it.”

Now Bridgend-born Davies is hoping for huge local support at the European Championships to cap off a dream summer.

“I’ll have lots of friends and family there and I’m a very patriotic man, so having it in Wales will be very special. London was amazing, but this is in Wales and it’s great for us to have such a big event.

“I’m hoping the people of Wales will come out in their thousands, create a big atmosphere, get behind the athletes and spur them on to produce their best.”

Davies will be one of 600 athletes from 40 countries competing at the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships.

Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via the Swansea tickets website. Prices start from £3 per session.

Media accreditation for the event is also now open via the Swansea website.

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McKillop targets world record at Swansea 2014

Ireland’s middle distance star Michael McKillop has set his sights on a new world record at the IPC Athletics European Championships this summer – despite racing to be fit in time, after an injury put him out of action for six months.

A picture of a man celebrates after crossing a finish line Michael Mckillop of Ireland celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold and break the world record with a time of 1:57.22 in the Men's 800m - T37 Final at the Paralympic Games in London © • getty images

“I would love to say that I would try and break the world record in the 800m, that would be probably my main focus and my main goal will be to do that and keep the record going, but if that doesn’t happen then the most important thing is winning the gold medal for Ireland”

The double world and Paralympic champion suffered a trapped nerve in his foot when he returned to training after taking a break following his momentous victories in Lyon, France, last year. At the World Championships he set yet another world record on his way to 800m T37 gold, before clinching the 1,500m T38 title in a championship record time.

Now McKillop is determined to line up in Swansea in seven weeks’ time ready to continue his fantastic run of form which has seen him set a new world record in the 800m at every major event he has competed in since the 2006 World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands.

“I would love to say that I would try and break the world record in the 800m, that would be probably my main focus and my main goal will be to do that and keep the record going, but if that doesn’t happen then the most important thing is winning the gold medal for Ireland,” he said.

There is an added incentive for the 24-year-old, who has won every major championships except the Europeans, having chosen not to compete in the Netherlands in 2012 as he focussed on the Paralympic Games. Completing the full set of gold medals remains a key target, but McKillop is philosophical about the task ahead.

“It’s been a frustrating and hard time but it’s also been a good learning curve, I learnt a lot about myself and I’ve been able to work on not just my running but also my form and things. There’s a positive that always comes out of a negative,” he said.

“During the six or seven months I’ll not lie, it was very depressing and very tough, I guess there were times when I kind of thought I don’t want to do it anymore.

“But the people around me helped me get over those thoughts - perked me up a little, kept me mentally focussed on the main goal - which is getting back fit, getting back doing something that I love to do, and getting back on the track and competing.”

McKillop returned to full training at the end of April, and stepping back on to the track after months on the sidelines was an anxious moment.

“There was a sense of nervousness, but a sense of happiness at the same time because I hadn’t been on the track since winning the Worlds, and I didn’t know how I was meant to feel, or what I was meant to be doing. I felt like I was kind of like a novice.

“It was a strange moment. The last time I ran, I won the World Championship, so I thought ‘I’m going to be running the same pace, I’m going to be running like I did,’ - and I felt absolutely rubbish.”

Now McKillop has a race against time to be at his best come August, so in July he plans to race himself back to full fitness at various meetings around the UK.

Helping him on the road to recovery is his coach – his father Paddy. The pair have been working together since McKillop started running as a 12-year-old.

“The relationship is always good,” explained McKillop. “We have ups and downs, and good times and bad times but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“Me and my dad are like best friends. We have a father son relationship in the house, but whenever we step out on a run we are not father and son anymore - we are professionals.”

Father and son – coach and athlete relationships are nothing new in the sport of course – and the McKillops can point to the likes of Lord Sebastian Coe and his father Peter who demonstrated how successful a family coaching set-up can be.

“There are things that I never thought I would be able to achieve and I have, like representing Ireland in the IAAF Cross Country Championships in 2009. And to compete in Beijing and London and win all those medals – if it wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t be competing at that high level. It all goes down to the quality of the coaching.”

Without his nearest rivals in the field in Swansea - Tunisia’s Paralympic silver medallist Mohamed Charmi, or Australia’s world runner-up Brad Scott - McKillop should be an overwhelming favourite to complete the full set of medals in an illustrious career, and to ensure an agonising six months at least has a happy ending.

McKillop will be one of 600 athletes from 40 countries competing at the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships between 18-23 August.

Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via the Swansea ticket website. Prices start from £3 per session.

Athletics Ones to Watch revealed

With just 50 days to go until the European Championships in Swansea, a list of 33 athletes from Europe and around the world has been announced.

Marcel Hug powers to victory in the 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland. Marcel Hug powers to victory in the 2014 IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland. © • Luc Percival

With just 50 days to go until August’s European Championships, IPC Athletics has revealed a list of 33 track and field stars to watch out for over the next 12 months, punctuated by Europe’s best athletes and their key rivalries.

A dedicated video animation of the medals athletes will be aiming to capture from 18-23 August has also been launched to mark the milestone at

Those on the complete list hold a total of 61 world and 108 Paralympic titles and are also likely to feature at October’s Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games, the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.

Full biographies can be found by clicking here.


Mandy Francois-Elie, France, T37

Francois-Elie grabbed the opportunity to shine on home soil at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, collecting women’s 100m and 200m gold medals in front of a rapturous packed stadium to follow-up from her 100m Paralympic title a year earlier.

Marie-Amelie Le Fur, France, T44

Former sprint world champion Le Fur will be back on the track and field at the 2014 Euros looking to avenge her Worlds 100m defeat to the Netherlands’ Marlou van Rhijn and Iris Pruysen in the long jump.

Heinrich Popow, Germany, T42

The men’s 100m world and Paralympic champion’s ongoing rivalry with Australian Scott Reardon is one of the highlights on the track. In Swansea, Popow will be showing his form ahead of the 2015 Worlds for their next meeting at a major international.

Hannah Cockroft, Great Britain, T34

‘Hurricane Hannah’ started her 2014 season with two new world records in the 100m and 200m, to add to her four world and two Paralympic titles from the last three years.

Aled Davies, Great Britain, F44

A Swansea 2014 Ambassador, Paralympic and world champion Davies is the home favourite heading into the Euros and aims to break the discus and shot put world records after already lowering the men’s discus mark in May.

Jonnie Peacock, Great Britain, T44

Being a sprint runner in one the most competitive fields has not phased the men’s 100m Paralympic and world champion, and Peacock will be right at home once again at Swansea 2014 searching for his next major title.

David Weir, Great Britain, T54

Multiple Paralympic champion Weir returned to the track in 2014 to renew his rivalry with Switzerland’s multi world champion Marcel Hug but remains unbeaten at a major Championships.

Martina Caironi, Italy, T42

The 24-year-old women’s 100m world and Paralympic champion is also a force to be reckoned with on the field, taking the long jump world title at Lyon 2013 ahead of Germany’s now world record holder Vanessa Low.

Marlou van Rhijn, the Netherlands, T43

The 100m and 200m world champion ‘Blade Babe’ has been looking to lower her own 100m world record all season, but has been denied by poor weather conditions. Swansea 2014 will be one of her last chances of the season to hit her goal.

Jason Smyth, Ireland, T13

After bursting onto the scene in 2006 to win his first World Championships medal, 26-year-old Smyth has now picked up a total of four world and four Paralympic titles in the 100m and 200m.

Evgenii Svetsov, Russia, T36

Having only sprinted at an international level for two years, the 25-year-old has already made his mark, winning triple gold at London 2012 and obliterating the 100m world record on his way to three world titles at Lyon 2013.

Andriy Vdovin, Russia, T37

After achieving two world titles in world record times, 20-year-old sprinter Vdovin heads to Swansea 2014 as the man to beat in the 100m and 200m.

Marcel Hug, Switzerland, T54

Hug’s British rival David Weir now describes Hug as the athlete to beat in the men’s wheelchair races after the ‘Swiss silver bullet’ won five world titles at Lyon 2013. The pair did not meet in Lyon but will go the distance once again in Swansea.


Terezinha Guilhermina, Brazil, T11

The charismatic 10-time world gold sprint medallist can be recognised on track by her distinctive eye mask and often colourful socks. Rio 2016 would be a much less colourful affair without the 100m and 200m Paralympic champion.

Veronica Hipolito, Brazil, T38

On her international debut at Lyon 2013, the 18-year-old stormed to gold in the 200m. A fascinating rivalry is emerging between her and British 100m world champion Sophie Hahn ahead of the 2015 Worlds and Rio 2016.

Yohannson Nascimento, Brazil, T46

After creating one of the most memorable race finishes ever at a Paralympic Games by courageously limping over the 100m finish line after pulling his hamstring, Nascimento returned in Lyon 2013 to claim 200m gold to add to his Paralympic title.

Alan Oliveira, Brazil, T43

As the fastest leg amputee on the planet, the Rio 2016 home sprinter lit-up the track at the 2013 Worlds to claim three gold medals, and secured his global status as one of the world’s most recognisable athletes.

Brent Lakatos, Canada, T53

Already in record-breaking form in 2014, the 34-year-old picked up his first individual world titles in 100m, 200m and 400m at Lyon 2013.

Yunidis Castillo, Cuba, T46

Her country’s most successful Paralympian, the ‘queen of speed’ completed the same hat-trick of victories in the 100m, 200m and 400m from London 2012 in Lyon.

Richard Browne, USA, T44

The latest in a long line of talented blade runners to come out of the States, Browne has his eye on Britain’s world and Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock after breaking his 100m world record in the semi-final at Lyon 2013, but suffering an agonising defeat in the final.

Jeremy Campbell, USA, F44

History-maker Campbell became the first para-athlete to throw a discus over 60m before going on to win men’s gold at London 2012 and the 2013 Worlds.

Raymond Martin, USA, T52

At just 18-years-old, Martin became a quadruple Paralympic champion on his debut at London 2012, going on to add the 1,500m world title to his collection at Lyon 2013 to claim five gold medals out of five across sprint and middle distances.

Tatyana McFadden, USA, T54

McFadden’s long list of athletics achievements are most recently highlighted by six gold medals from the women’s 100m-1,500m at the 2013 Worlds and becoming the first athlete ever to complete a marathon Grand Slam.

Jarryd Wallace, USA, T44

The men’s 200m T44 world record holder and world champion came of age at Lyon 2013, not only taking the gold but lowering the world mark twice in the heats and finals.


El Amin Chentouf, Morroco, T12

Long distance runner Chentouf’s compelling rivalry with Tunisia’s Abderrahim Zhiou saw the Moroccan come out on top at Lyon 2013 with three men’s world titles.

Johanna Benson, Namibia, T37

The first ever Namibian athlete to win a gold medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Games, Benson is a national hero and never strays far from the podium in her battle with France’s Mandy Francois-Elie.

Ilse Hayes, South Africa, T13

The 28-year-old has not missed an opportunity to win a long jump Paralympic or world title since her first Paralympics in 2008 and is also a regular 100m podium finisher.

Walid Ktila, Tunisia, T34

The double Paralympic champion excelled across distances at Lyon 2013 to finish with a total of four gold medals, adding to his 100m and 200m titles from London 2012.

Abderrahim Zhiou, Tunisia, T12

Zhiou is one of the best visually impaired middle and long distance runners in the world having won three Paralympic and five men’s world titles since 2008.


Evan O’Hanlon, Australia, T38

Reigning double Paralympic and triple world champion O’Hanlon is the current world record holder in the 100m and 200m, making him one of the fastest para-athletes in the world.

Scott Reardon, Australia, T42

Reardon and German rival Heinrich Popow were so determined to beat each over 100m at the 2013 Worlds, that the pair finished the race in a dead-heat and were both awarded gold – the first time in IPC Athletics history.


Na Mi, China, T37

Mi shows little sign of slowing down heading into the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar. As the reigning world and Paralympic women’s discus and shot-put champion, the 28-year-old is also the holder of both world records.

Javad Hardani, Iran, F38

Double men’s discus Paralympic champion Hardani is an accomplished thrower who will be one of the athletes to beat at October’s Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea.

The 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships will feature around 600 athletes from 40 countries. More information about tickets and media accreditation can be found at

More information about Incheon 2014 is available at:

More information about Toronto 2015 is available at:

Records fall at Fast Cow meet

U.S. athletes in great form at track and field meeting in Indianapolis.

Raymond Martin celebrates USA's Raymond Martin won every race he entered at the London 2012 Paralympic Games © • Getty

The USA’s Raymond Martin led the way for a record-breaking night at the Fast Cow Invitational with two unofficial world record performances at the Michael A. Carroll Stadium at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Thursday (26 June) night.

Martin, a winner of five world titles in 2013, won the 1500m in 3:34.40 to knock a second and a half off of the men’s T52 world record that was previously set by Spain’s Santiago Sanz in 2007. In the men’s 400m, Martin improved the world record by nearly four-tenths of a second as he crossed the line in 56.89 to better the previous record set by Japan’s Tomoyo Ito in 2008.

In the men’s 5,000m T34, Austin Pruitt broke a world record that had been in the books since he was four years old. Pruitt won the event in 12:21.64 to slash more than 12 seconds off of the previous record that was set by Japan’s Kazuya Maeba in 1998.

The women’s 5,000m T53 saw a scorching pace as three women bettered the previous American record. Chelsea McClammer won in 11:24.60 to lower the record by more than five seconds, with Amanda McGrory and Susannah Scaroni also dipping under the previous record of 11:29.95.

After narrowly missing out on the 5,000m T54 American record by less than a second at last week’s U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships, Tatyana McFadden was victorious in adding another record to her name as she won in 11:23.88.

Two days shy of her 14th birthday, Alexa Halko set two American and one Pan American record in the women’s T34 class. In the 100m, Halko improved a record set long before she was born, as she crossed the line in 19.95 to improve the previous American record of 20.02 set by Linda Mastandrea in 1996. In the 400m, Halko broke her own American and Pan American records with a new time of 1:06.48.

The fifth annual Fast Cow Invitational is a wheelchair racing specific meet named for an actual cow that used to race alongside the road while the University of Illinois athletes were training.

Swansea 2014 unveil unique medal designs

Stunning gold, silver and bronze medals by designer Chris Fox are unveiled to mark 50 days to go until the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships on Sunday (29 June).

© •

With Sunday (29 June) marking just 50 days to go before the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, the designs for the winners' medals have been unveiled by the organisers.

With 199 medal events across 5 days of competition, over 600 athletes and guides will be hoping to be presented with a gold, silver or bronze medal this August at the biggest para-athletics event of the year.

The ground breaking design has been produced by talented young Welsh designer Chris Fox, the man behind the distinctive Championship mark at the forefront of the event.

The core inspiration for the design of the Swansea 2014 medals was the concept of `breaking the mould.' Just as the athletes themselves redefine their own potential and defy expectations, the organisers wanted to create medals that forge new ground away from preconceived ideas of what a medal should look like.

The dragon emblem that represents the Championships is highly sculptured, and this is carried into the surfacing of the medals to create a sharp, unique and forward-thinking design. The medals' predominant feature is a ring of six interlocking sculptural forms which represent the six core values of the Championships: passion, equality, excitement, inspiration, strength and pride.

Talking about the design Chris Fox said: "I am extremely proud to be involved in the creative delivery of the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships. I lived in Swansea for seven years after moving there as an 18-year-old to study, so to be working on such a high profile event for the city feels like giving back some of what Swansea gave to me.

"Being asked to design the Swansea 2014 winners' medals is the kind of job that, potentially, comes around once in a lifetime. To be entrusted with designing one of the Championships' most important legacies feels like winning a medal in itself!

"When I set up my design business, Goldfox, in 2011, I never expected it would lead to such a fantastic entry into my portfolio just three years in. I'm treating this as proof that - just as the athletes will find in 50 days time - applying hard work, training and dedication to any natural talents you're lucky enough to have can turn them into achievements you'll be proud of for the rest of your life. I would like to thank the Swansea 2014 team for the opportunity, and hope they are as proud of what we have created as I am."

Paul Thorburn, Chair of Swansea 2014 said: "From the moment Swansea won the right to host the Championships our intention has been to deliver an event that exceeded all expectations, ensuring that this is the best European Championships ever held and that every athlete, official and spectator has a truly outstanding experience. The medals that will be awarded in August are a key part of the athletes' experience, something that will stay with them for a life-time; the design reflects the ambition of the team, the city and the country. The overarching impetus was to create medals the athletes would be proud to win, and that Swansea can be proud to bestow. Hopefully we've done just that."

Ryan Montgomery, Head of IPC Athletics said: "At every step along the way, the Swansea 2014 organisers have impressed us with their vision for the event which is IPC Athletics marquee competition of the year. They have not disappointed with the medals. They are simply stunning. They embody the city, the venue, the welcoming nature of the people and the hosts' overwhelming sense of pride that we have seen time and time again.

"Our main goal is that all athletes leave the European Championships with the same immense pride and sense of achievement. The aim of any athlete is to reach the podium - those that do so are sure to cherish these unique designs for the rest of their lives."

Tickets for Swansea 2014, which takes place between 18-23 August, are now on sale and are available both online at the Swansea website and from local outlets in Swansea.

Priced at between GBP 3.00-7.00 per session, tickets are selling fast but can still be purchased for all sessions across the week.

The event is being delivered by Swansea University in partnership with Swansea Council, Disability Sport Wales, British Athletics, Welsh Athletics, the Welsh Government and UK Sport.

A special video will be released on Sunday (29 June) at the Swansea website to mark 50 days to go.