Above: Jessica Hamill in action in the F34 shot put at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Photo by Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images.
Jessica Hamill became the fifth New Zealander to medal in Para-Athletics at the Rio 2016 Paralympics this morning. Throwing in the women’s F34 shot put, the 26 year old Dunedin athlete won bronze with a best throw of 7.54.
The event was won by Lijuan Zou from China with a world record 8.75m while Pole Lucyna Kornobys was second with 8.00.
After the first round of throwing in which the athletes all had three attempts, Hamill was in the bronze medal position with her opening throw of 7.54.
The New Zealand record holder was not able to improve on this distance and none of the positions changed after the second round of the competition with a further three attempts for each athlete, although Morocco’s Saida Amoudi improved to 7.52, only 2cm behind Hamill.
Hamill, the most experienced of the Para-Athletes in Rio, first competed internationally as a 15 year old at the IPC Athletics World Championships in 2006.
Coached by Athletics New Zealand High Performance Para-Athlete Manager Raylene Bates, Hamill won silver at both the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and the IPC World Championships in Doha in 2015 and went into the Rio Paralympics as the third ranked in the field.
Meanwhile, “blade runner” Liam Malone cruised into his third final of the Paralympics, finishing second in his T43/44 400m heat in 48.34, just outside his 48.28 personal best.
Malone is expected to be challenged in the final by Americans Hunter Woodhall and AJ Digby and German David Behre, all with personal bests under 48 seconds and faster than the Kiwi 200m gold medallist.
The Kiwi Para-Athletics team currently has six medals – two gold for Malone and Anna Grimaldi, two silver for Holly Robinson and Malone and two bronze for Rory McSweeney and Hamill.
Malone will be in action in his 400m final at 2:38 am Friday (NZ time), while William Steadman competes in the T36 400m heats and Anna Grimaldi runs in her T47 200m heat.