Javelin thrower Hollie Arnold insisted she had no regrets about her appearance on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! after being disappointed with Paralympic bronze as she relinquished her crown in Tokyo.
Defending champion Arnold set a Games record of 43.01m in storming to gold in Rio but was unable to replicate that performance on a soggy night in the Japanese capital.
The 27-year-old’s effort of 39.73m was only good enough for the final place on the podium on a day which yielded six GB athletics medals at the Olympic Stadium, including golds for Owen Miller and Jonathan Broom-Edwards.
Arnold was the first contestant to leave series 21 of I’m a Celeb – which was switched from Australia to north Wales due to coronavirus restrictions – in late November but denied reality television had been a distraction from her day job.
“I had this conversation with my coach, it was a decision we both made,” she said, after New Zealand’s world record holder Holly Robinson claimed gold with a throw of 40.99m.
“That time away, it made me me. I found myself, I found my strength, my resilience in there, and I had a fantastic time.
“Mentally, I came out better than I thought I would ever. For me, it isn’t a regret, it hasn’t impacted training whatsoever.
“I’m not happy (with the result). It’s just one of those things. I know there was a big throw in me, you could see the passion and fight. I’ve probably got millions of bruises on my leg from slapping it to get ready to compete.”
Also on Friday evening, 45-year-old Richard Whitehead claimed 200m silver, a feat then emulated by GB’s 4x100m universal relay team.
Double-amputee Whitehead looked set for a third successive gold in the T61 class following a rapid start but 19-year-old South African Mahlangu Ntando stormed back to grab glory.
Whitehead’s 23.99 seconds was a season’s best, with world record holder Ntando four-tenths of a second quicker.
“I still think I have a lot to offer and you have to work to beat me,” said Whitehead, who swapped vest numbers with Ntando in the interview area of the stadium
“He’s 19, I’m 45. Age is but a number right?
“I wasn’t just running for me, I was running for my country and for people like Mahlangu, who are watching at home and thinking anything is possible.”
The relay team of Libby Clegg and guide Chris Clarke, Jonnie Peacock, Ali Smith and Nathan Maguire initially finished third but were upgraded to silver following China’s disqualification for a changeover infringement.
GB – led by Clegg, who will retire after the Games – finished in 47.50secs, with the United States crowned champions in 45.52secs.
Peacock, who dramatically won joint-bronze in the T64 100m on Monday, said: “I had to put my beer on hold, maybe I’ll get on it tonight.
“It’s been so cool to get the opportunity to race twice. To be a part of Libby’s last race and get a medal with her is just incredible.
“She’s not talked about it but she’s run through so much pain at these Games and those were not easy legs for her. She gritted her teeth and got us a medal, I’m so proud.”
The British medal haul began in the morning session.
Games debutant Miller claimed a shock 1500m gold after upsetting world and European champion Alexandr Rabotnitskii.
The 29-year-old Scotsman, who finished sixth at the 2019 world championships, crossed the line in a winning time of 3:54.57, 1.21secs ahead of Russian Paralympic Committee athlete Rabotnitskii.
Hannah Taunton won bronze in the women’s race with a personal best.
The 30-year-old – who incidentally hails from Taunton in Somerset – finished in 4:35.34, with Poland’s Barbara Bieganowska-Zajac taking the title for the third games in succession, in a time of 4:27.84.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Broom-Edwards seized gold in the T64 high jump.
The 33-year-old’s season’s best of 2.10m matched his exploits in Rio, where he only managed silver.
“I’ve been striving for that gold for years,” he said. “They were horrible conditions so I tried to keep my cool and get it right when it counted.”
Defending T38 400m champion Kadeena Cox was second in her qualifying heat, crossing the line in a season’s best 1:02.51.
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