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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Tanni races to gold
By Elizabeth Hudson
BBC Sport in Athens

Tanni Grey Thompson
Britain's wheelchair racer Tanni Grey Thompson had relief etched all over her face as she retained her women's T53 100m crown at the Paralympics.

Grey Thompson recovered from a sluggish start to win in 17.24 seconds, ahead of Italy's Francesca Porcellato and Australian Angie Ballard.

It is her 10th Paralympic gold and follows a disappointing seventh place in the 800m final earlier in the week.

"I've never been so happy to win a race," she said afterwards.

"It is a huge relief for me after what happened in the 800m."

The victory was Britain's first track gold medal of the Games and Grey Thompson added: "There was a lot going on in my head before the start.

"But one of the last things I was told was that I had the fastest time in the world this year and it was up to the others to try to beat me.

I've had great encouragement from the whole team
Tanni Grey Thompson
"I know I had a shaky start, which was probably down to nerves as much as anything else, but I honestly can't remember much of the actual race."

The 35-year-old, who is also due to compete in the 200m and 400m races, paid tribute to her team-mates who had helped raise her spirits after the 800m.

"I've had great encouragement from the whole team - some of whom I had never even spoke to before," she revealed.

Elsewhere in track and field, Welsh teenager Claire Williams has set her sights on Beijing in four years' time after finishing fifth in the women's F13 discus at the Paralympics.

The 16-year-old, the youngest competitor in the field, threw 35.26m - her second best throw of all time.

"I knew it would be tough out there as the standards are so high, but I'm delighted," she said.

"Beijing is what I have been aiming for and by then I will have more strength and will hopefully challenge for gold."

Meanwhile, wheelchair racers Rachel Potter and Karen Lewis-Archer had mixed fortunes in the heats of their respective events.

Potter finished second behind Canada's Diane Roy in her semi-final of the T54 400m in a time of one minute 01.23 seconds.

But Lewis-Archer, the European champion in this event, was last in her heat of the T52 400m in 1:27.46 seconds and failed to advance.

Stephen Cooper qualified seventh fastest for the final of the T37 800m after finishing third in his semi-final in 2:13.11.

Tunisia's Mohammed Charmi set a new world record of 2:08.85 in the other semi-final, beating Cooper's mark which had stood since Sydney.

Interview: Tanni-Grey Thompson

Paralympic Games 2004



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