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Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Monday, 28 June 2010 00:06 UK

Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods sets new world record

By Elizabeth Hudson

Shelly Woods
Woods has enjoyed a successful season so far

British wheelchair racer Shelly Woods believes her new 1500m world record will boost her confidence ahead of January's World Championships.

The 24-year-old from Blackpool set the mark at the Arbon meet in Switzerland.

The time of three minutes 21.22 seconds was 3.01 seconds faster than 14-time Paralympic champion Chantal Petitclerc's record set in 2007.

"I knew I had been pushing well and my speed and my start have improved a lot," she told BBC Sport.

Woods came to Switzerland after some positive performances in Florida, including a first-ever 1500m win over top American Tatyana McFadden.

She was keen to set a fast time to secure the 1500m qualifying standard for the Worlds in New Zealand, having already achieved the 800 and 5,000m marks.

But on the Arbon track, which is known for its quick times, Woods, who won silver in the 1500m and bronze in the 5,000m at the Beijing Paralympics, achieved her first world record, finishing ahead of Canada's Diane Roy and Sandra Graf of Austria.

"We just went off hard for the qualifying time and split the field," explained Woods. "My speed was really good at the end and I just managed to get that bit ahead of Diane to win and get the record.

"To come away with the time I did and also win the race was incredible.

"I always knew I was capable of breaking the 5,000m record but to break the 1500m mark is fantastic.

"I was in the race where Chantal had broke the previous record in Atlanta 2007 and I was fourth or fifth a second behind her but it is special to now have my own world record."

Amazingly, Woods also broke Roy's 5,000m world record at the meeting - clocking 11:37.44 but the Canadian gained revenge at the Swiss Open in the same venue two days later with a new time of 11:16.96 with Woods just behind in second.

I have to keep focussed and motivated and not rest on my laurels
Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods

But Woods made sure of victory in the 1500m and although her time of 3:28.07 was considerably slower than her new world record, she was still delighted with her performance.

"I wanted to defend my record time and I won the race in a different way, finishing over 0.7 seconds clear of Diane, which was a massive confidence boost," she said.

"But there are still over six months until the Worlds and I have to keep focussed and motivated and not rest on my laurels because I know all of my rivals will be training hard."

Next up for Woods, who switched coaches from Australian Andrew Dawes to Pete Wyman this season to ensure more regular contact with a coach, is set to race at the Diamond League in Gateshead on 10 July as the season.

But she will also compete in the New York Marathon before ensuring she peaks for New Zealand.

"There aren't too many races in the lead-up to the Worlds but hopefully I can get a race in Australia in January," she added.

"I usually need a race to get me back into competition mode and have me firing on all cylinders because you have to be ready when it comes to the Worlds."

Woods's performances were among a host of strong British performances at the two meetings with fellow wheelchair racers Mickey Bushell and Hannah Cockroft also setting world records.

Bushell, a silver medallist in Beijing, lowered his own 100m world record of 14.69 seconds with victory in 14.47.

The 20-year-old, who is aiming to compete in the 100, 200, 400 and 800m events at next January's World Championships in New Zealand, is also targeting a world record in the 200m.

"I knew I was in shape because I was doing 14.3s and 14.4s last weekend," said Bushell.

"It would be brilliant if I could qualify for all four events in New Zealand."

Cockcroft improved the 100, 200 and 800m world records she set last weekend in Stoke Mandeville.

The Halifax teenager clocked her first ever sub-19 mark for the 100m with 18.68 - an improvement on her previous best of 19.35 with new PBs of 33.47 in the 200m and 2:04.84 in the 800m.

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see also
Wind tunnel helping Paralympians
09 Jun 10 |  Bristol
Weir suffers flat as Cassidy wins
25 Apr 10 |  Disability Sport
Woods takes New York second again
01 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport
Woods battles to bronze in re-run
12 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Duo take GB's fourth cycling gold
08 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
02 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport

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