14 April 2018

Jones doubles up as England seal three wheelchair marathon medals

Two races, two different sports, two medals – Jade Jones has certainly made sure to enjoy herself on the Gold Coast at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Just over a week after making history as the first female Commonwealth Games paratriathlon champion, Jones was back on the medal rostrum again, and this time it came after clinching bronze in the women’s T54 marathon.

It was one of three medals for English para-athletes on the final day of competition Down Under with John Smith and Simon Lawson also taking silver and bronze behind Australia’s Kurt Fearnley in the men’s race.

That capped off a successful time for home nations athletes with the 2018 hosting the largest ever Commonwealth Games para-sport programme.

And for two-time Paralympian Jones, who was later named as Team England’s flagbearer for the Closing Ceremony, the enormity of her achievements were still sinking in as she added to her T54 1500m bronze from four years ago.

“I knew I could do well in the triathlon and that was where all my training was focused towards. I didn’t think I could win, but I knew I could do well,” said the 22-year-old, who is set to race in next weekend’s London Marathon.

Second trip to the podium for Jade Jones

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“To come away with the gold in that and then the bronze here is just amazing. It was easily the best marathon I've ever done in my life."

Jade Jones

“I think it was actually a personal best as well, so I’m really happy with it.

“I’m really shattered now, but it was a great race. It’s a nice flat course that suits me pretty well, so I’m really happy with it.”

Jones eventually crossed in 1:44.20, 20 seconds behind champion Madison de Rozario of Australia and seven adrift of silver medallist Eliza Ault-Connell.

Fourth went to Scotland’s Samantha Kinghorn – in just her second-ever marathon as she usually specialises in the shorter track events – while England’s Nicole Emerson placed sixth.

There was also interest for the Jones household in the men’s race as Jade’s husband Callum Hall came home seventh.

She added: “It’s our first major championships together, so that’s really cool. He’s done amazing for a first Games, so he should be happy too.”

John Smith celebrates silver in the men's T54 marathon

Hall’s teammates Smith and Lawson were also celebrating as they took to the podium following a dramatic sprint finish which saw them edge Canada’s Tristan Smyth out of the medals.

Home favourite Fearnley was the runaway winner in his swansong race, finishing 1:18 minutes clear in 1:30.26.

But Smith clocked a season’s best 1:31.44 to take silver with Lawson recording the same time but just being edged into bronze.

Smith said: “Simon is a good friend of mine; we’ve know each other for a while so I’m pleased he also won a medal.

“We are 50 50 in terms of rankings and times. But I’ve been working on my weaknesses; my sprint finish, breaks, turns, flat straights, I’ve worked hard with my team to do everything to give me the best chance.

“I’ve put in 1400 miles since last July so I’ve put everything into that 26 miles to come away with a result and I’m very happy with the silver medal.”

John Smith and Simon Lawson pose with their medals

Despite the early morning start to the race, hot temperatures still made for difficult racing, with Lawson admitting conditions had been tricky to adapt to.

“I struggled a bit early on, the first couple of miles were tough but I eventually got my breath back. Kurt got away so I tried to go with him but it wasn’t possible,” he said.

“We ran out of a bit of room near the end but two English athletes getting silver and bronze is amazing. I’m happy with that; it’s my first major medal.

“It is a lot warmer than England that’s for sure. The last race I did was in New York and it was -5 celsius, so coming straight here was a shock but I adapted quickly.”

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