Dorchester middle-distance runner Paul Blake insists his pursuit of London 2012 glory has not been blown off course despite a fifth-place finish on his BT Paralympic World Cup debut.
The 21-year-old made an explosive start to 2011, grabbing 400m gold and 800m silver at the IPC World Championships in New Zealand in January but in blustery conditions in Manchester, Blake could only manage fifth over the longer distance – crossing the line in 2:12.74 minutes. Fifth place is a touch deceiving however in a mixed category race where Blake finished as the second T36 athlete. And although he was more than two seconds down on his personal best, the Dorchester AC runner insists his Paralympic World Cup debut has set him up perfectly for the rest of the season.
He said: “The race went quite well. It was a mixed classification race so it was always bound to be quite quick.
“This was more about the experience than anything else. It has definitely made me more confident for the rest of the season and going forward to next year and London 2012.
“I have not really given the Paraylmpics much thought although they were always in the back of my mind. I will think about them a lot more from now on though. “This race has helped me greatly as I am now a bit more confident. I am working towards beating my pb and getting down to 2.08.
“London will come quite quickly so Rio could be my main career event but we will see.”
Meanwhile, fellow Dorchester athlete Holly Neill agonisingly missed out on the shot put podium in Man-chester, finishing in fourth place and 0.42m behind compatriot Sophie Hancock.
But after ending her Paralympic World Cup debut with a new personal best, the world junior champion insists she will head into the remainder of the season full of confidence.
She said: “This is the first time I’ve ever done this competition and I’ve got a personal best, which is great.
“I was a bit nervous coming in but feel a lot better now.
“It’s not my first international, but it’s the first senior international so it’s the first time with all the seniors. “The shot went better than expected but it’s more about the experience than anything else for me. I’ve got the Welsh champs coming up which will be my next major competition.”
* The BT Paralympic World Cup took place in Manchester with elite international athletes competing in swimming, athletics and wheelchair basketball. Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for more information.Tags: Holly Neill, London 2012, Paralympic World Cup, Paralympics, Paul Blake, Sophie Hancock, wheelchair basketball