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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 06:15 GMT 07:15 UK
Tanni turns it round
By Elizabeth Hudson
BBC Sport in Athens

Tanni Grey Thompson waves at the medal ceremony after her T53 100m win
I've never been so happy just to win a race
Tanni Grey Thompson's gold medal in the T53 100m brings to an end a difficult couple of days for Britain's best-known Paralympian.

Tanni found herself in an unfamiliar place when she only finished seventh in the 800m final on Tuesday night.

It was an event she had dominated at the Paralympics, winning in Barcelona in 1992 and then successfully defending the title in both Atlanta and Sydney.

In a year where her form over the 800m has been patchy, she admitted that she got the race tactics wrong and an incorrect split-second decision at the start of the race cost her dearly.

She was both angry and disappointed at her performance in what could be her last Paralympics before the curtain comes down on a long and distinguished career.

But she vowed to come back and was confident of success in the 100m, where she was defending champion.

The remainder of the GB team, not only those in her own sport, played their part in her preparations with words of encouragement over the intervening days as she made her way around the athletes' village.

When it came to 2119 Greek time on Thursday night, the stadium big screen panned across the eight finalists in the sprint race and it was a nervous-looking Tanni whose face came up.

Twenty seconds, a 10th Paralympic gold medal and a personal best later, it was an overjoyed athlete who came off the track.

"I've never been so happy just to win a race," she admitted.

"Even if there was no gold medal at stake, I would still be delighted with the win after the worst 800m of my life."

Tanni will be hoping that the win kickstarts her Paralympics, but she knows it will not be easy in her remaining two races.

She stands a good chance in the 400m, the heats of which are due to take place on Saturday.

However, there is no T53 200m so the 35-year-old will have to compete in the T54 category against less-disabled athletes, which presents its own difficulties.

After the 800m, Tanni feared it would be a disastrous Paralympics for her - she certainly isn't saying that now.




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SEE ALSO
Tanni suffers early setback
20 Sep 04  |  Paralympics



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