Stadium silent for blind long jump final
London’s normally raucous Olympic Stadium fell silent on Tuesday for the men’s F11 long jump final, in which athletes with little or no vision take off aided only by the sound of their coaches’ calls.
To give the competitors the best chance of performing well, the 80,000-seater Paralympic Games main venue descended into a rare hush.
After lining up their athlete straight on the runway, the coach stands at the take-off board, clapping a running rhythm and calling to their athletes so they can hear the distance to the line. They then jump out of the way at the last second.
Competitors in the F11 classification are unable to recognise the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction.
Ukraine’s Ruslan Katyshev won the 2012 Games gold with a personal best of 6.46 metres secured in his first jump, finishing ahead of world record holder Elexis Gillette of the United States and China’s Li Duan in bronze.
“I have been waiting for this day for almost 10 years,” Katyshev said.
“I knew that he (Gillette) had the world record. I was not confident at all before the competition but I set my mind to get a better result and on my jump technique.
“I was nervous but I was trying to hold my emotions.”
Also on the first attempt, China’s Mi Na won the F37 women’s shot put — a category for athletes with cerebral palsy — stretching her own world record to 12.20 metres.
“I was really surprised as well,” she said.
“I felt that the atmosphere here is better than (Beijing) 2008... the audience were full of energy,” she added.
Alphanso Cunningham won Jamaica’s first London 2012 Paralympics medal by triumphing in the seated F52/53 men’s javelin title with a 21.84-metre throw.
He said he was spurred on by the Jamaican athletics squad’s medals at the Olympics and celebrated with compatriot Usain Bolt’s trademark pose.
“Because of their achievement it motivated me to say ’You know what, we need to do the same’,” he said.
Russia’s Alexey Ashapatov extended his domination of the men’s F57/58 seated throwing events, completing his second straight Paralympics shot put and discus double.
He took his shot world record to 16.20 metres to win the final.
“I dedicate my medal to my loved one,” he said.
“We will have a wedding after the Paralympics. She supported me and delivered a beautiful daughter for me.
“My victory will be a great present for her.”
Meanwhile in semi-final races, one-armed Yunidis Castillo of Cuba became the first T46 female sprinter to break the 12-second barrier in the 100m, clocking 11.95 seconds.
In the men’s 200m T34 — contested by wheelchair athletes with cerebral palsy — Tunisia’s Walid Ktila set a new world record of 27.98 seconds.