Above: Keegan Pitcher finishing third behind Australia's James Turner at the Para Athletics World Champs. Photo by Mike Hewitt / Getty Images Sport.
Auckland teenager Keegan Pitcher has won bronze for New Zealand at the Para Athletics World Champs in London.
The 19 year old student, in his first year of athletics and competing at his first international event ran a well-paced race to grab the bronze on the line and come very close to the silver medal in the T36 400m final.
Pitcher, coached by Hamish Meacheam, was not overawed by the occasion in the London Olympic Stadium, running the first 200m of the race conservatively before applying pressure around the final bend and the unleashing a strong finish to reel in three athletes ahead of him.
His time of 55.23 is a New Zealand Para athletics record for his classification, bettering the time of 55.69 set by William Stedman at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Stedman was also in the London final and finished sixth, not able to repeat his heroics of Rio.
The race was won by Australia’s James Turner in 54.27. Turner also won the 200m, with Pitcher finishing seventh. Pitcher and Stedman will face off again with Turner in the 800m final on Monday morning.
Stedman also competed in the long jump and came very close to a bronze medal, jumping 5.35m, equalling his New Zealand record, finishing just 0.04m behind third place.
Earlier Jessica Hamill won bronze in the F34 women’s shot put, throwing 7.77, just short of her New Zealand record 7.83m.
Hamill, the 26 year old team captain and the most experienced New Zealand athlete at the championships, at her fourth World event, repeated her third place from Rio behind the same two athletes, improving by 0.23m in the process.
The 26 year old Dunedin athlete has Cerebral Palsy and athletes in her classification compete in a fixed throwing frame anchored to the ground because of the big forces developed by the throwers.
The winner was China’s Lujuan Zou, throwing 8.23m, just ahead of Lucyana Kornobys from Poland on 8.22m.
Rory McSweeney could not match his Rio form in the men’s F44 javelin, throwing 51.58m and finishing seventh in a very strong field. The winner Akeem Stewart from Trinidad and Tobago threw 57.81.
The two medals for Pitcher and Hamill add to the silver won by F46 javelin thrower Holly Robinson on day 2 of the championships.
An innovation at this year’s championships sees coaches being awarded medals as well as coaches. As well as Meacheam, Dunedin coach Raylene Bates who coaches both Robinson and Hamill has collected silver and bronze in recognition of the success of her charges.
With two days of competition remaining, Anna Grimaldi in the T47 long jump, along with Pitcher and Stedman in the 800m are still competing.
Holly Robinson Javelin W F46 42.41m Silver
Jessica Hamill Shot Put W F34 7.77m Bronze
Keegan Pitcher 400m M T36 55.23 NZ Rec Bronze
William Stedman Long Jump M T36 5.35 = NZ Rec 4th
William Stedman 400m M T36 56.88 6th
Rory McSweeney Javelin M F44 51.58 7th
Keegan Pitcher 200m M T36 25.53 7th
Still to compete
Anna Grimaldi Long Jump W T47
Keegan Pitcher 800m M T36
William Stedman 800m M T36