It was Canada and the USA on top of the world at the Port of Tyne Tunnel 2K International – fastest wheelchair race on the planet, last night in North East England.
Josh Cassidy, the IPC world ranked no.1 in the 1500m took his third gold medal win at the tunnel in a convincing victory, twenty seconds ahead of Australian Richard Colman and Frenchman Denis LeMeunier. Cassidy’s time was the fastest ever at the Tunnel 2K, taking 3:33.3 seconds to cover the 2km course. “I love this race” said Cassidy, after the race “ I think I broke 50mph on the downhill, for sure, and it is pretty special to win the first race in the new Tyne Tunnel”.
The women’s race was taken by American darling Amanda McGrory in a time of 4:26.4, narrowly beating Jade Jones from Middlesbrough’s time of 4:29.8. “I was way behind Jade at the halfway stage, being a lightweight on the downhill, but I came into my own on the climb, overtaking her just as we exited the portal. I am thrilled with my performance and can’t wait for next year!” Italian veteran and lady of the race Francesca Porcellato was present again in the top three, finishing third in at time of 5:15.5.
After the excitement of the race, Kerry McGregor rounded the evening off by wowing the crowd with her vocal rendition of Brenda Russell’s ‘Get here’. She explained that she had chosen the song to reflect the athletes’ incredible drive and determination to achieve their goals in any which way they can.
Susan Wear, Head of Communications, The Port of Tyne presented the prizes to the female race winners. She commented “Port of Tyne is more accustomed to moving things around above the water rather than below it but when you see these athletes race under the Tyne it is easy to understand why we couldn’t resist getting involved”.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr. Jim Sewell, awarded prizes to the male winners. He said “This is a fantastic weekend of sport for the region, with this wheelchair race leading the way right here in South Tyneside”.
Cllr Glynis Barrie, Cabinet Member for Community Services at North Tyneside Council said, “This is an incredible and awe inspiring race. North Tyneside Council is proud support such a showcase of wheelchair racing ahead of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.”
Baroness Grey Thomspon said, “There is nothing like Tunnel 2K anywhere else in the world. The event is good for North East England and good for wheelchair racing. “
Paul Fenwick, Project Director, Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority said:
“Well done to all the racers who competed tonight. It certainly was exciting to watch and great to see the new tunnel being used for the event. “The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority is pleased to support the race which brings world-class athletes to the region. It’s also a great opportunity for our Olympic hopefuls ahead of the London 2012 Games to compete against racers from across the globe and we wish them every success for next year.”
Ron Henderson, Operations Manager for TT2 said “We are delighted to once again welcome the world’s best athletes to the Tyne Tunnel. This is an amazing race and tonight we’ve seen the fastest ever results. Congratulations to all the athletes for putting on such an incredible performance.”
David Burdus, race promoter said, “We set out to break the mould with this race, and we certainly did that again. You wont have seen anything like this, 50mph down hill, your backside one foot from the tarmac – definitely not for the feint-hearted. These athletes certainly know how to put on a show”.
1 Amanda McGrory USA 04:26.4
2 Jade Jones GB 04:29.8
4 Fancesca Porcellato ITALY 05:16.5
3 Nikky Emmerson GB 05.25.0
1 Josh Cassidy CAN 03:33.3
2 Richard Colman AUS 03.53.3
3 Denis LeMeunier FRA 0.3:53.5
4 Aron Anderson SWE 03:59.1
5 Mickey Bushell GB 04:13.3
6 Simon Lawson GB 04:18.9
7 Phil Hogg GB 04:19.6
8 Ross Low GB 04:33.4
9 Kyle Shaw CAN 04:40.8
10 Jason Richards GB 05:21.0
11 Alan Rayment GB 06:17.0
12 Matt Clarke GB 06:49.2
13 Rob Smith GB 06:51.2