Gold fever - Cunningham targets discus throw, Grant tackles javelin

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Thursday, September 06, 2012    

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LONDON, England — Jamaica's gold medal hero Alphanso Cunningham will go after his second gold medal of the 14th Paralympic Games this morning (UK time) when he lines up in his pet event the men's discus throw F51/52/53 starting just after 10:00 am in Olympic Stadium in Stratford here.

Cunningham is on a high after winning the javelin F52/53 gold on Tuesday with a big personal best 21.84m.

Jamaica's third competitor Sylvia Grant, who is in her seventh Paralympic Games, will also be in action when she takes part in the women's javelin F57/58 later in the evening, starting just after 7:00 pm.

After a disappointing fourth four years ago in Beijing, China, Cunningham is seeking to atone and based on performances coming into the event today and his training over the past month, he is the class of the field.

Other top contenders are Toshie Oi of Japan, the defending champion and Paralympic and World Record holder who has a season best 23.30m and American Scot Severn, who has thrown 23.43m so far this year.

Oi threw 26.21m to win in Beijing in 2008 after setting the F53 World Record with a toss of 26.62m two years earlier.

The dreadlocked Cunningham has consistently beaten his personal best 26.45m in training both at the pre-Paralympic training camp in Bedford earlier and in training here in London.

The Jamaican, Oi and Severn are the only F53 classified athletes in the field and are expected to contest the medals, while Latvia's F52 Aigars Apinis, the F52 Paralympic and World Record holder, has also gone over 20.00m.

Jamaica's competitive schedule closes in the afternoon session where Grant, the oldest in the field at 49 years old will go after her seventh Paralympic medal.

While some may think the elusive gold medal may be out of her reach, the feisty Grant says she is ready for the challenge. "I feel ready, but the classes have been mixed and the 58s are stronger, but I won't watch that... (I will) just be going out there to do my best," she noted.

While she got off to a late start in her preparations, she said she had made a lot of strides since the start of the training camp in Bedford and was hopeful. "To tell the living truth, I never trained that hard," she said on Tuesday as she waited for the victory ceremony for the men's F52/53 javelin that team-mate Alphanso Cunningham had won earlier in the day.

Grant said that when she got to Bedford she was throwing just over 17.00m, but has since improved that to 19.00m. Still she knows that is not good enough and she has to step up to get into the final.

Based on past performances, she is the fifth ranked in the F57 class with a personal best 20.36m.





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