News & Updates

16 July 2023 • Para Athletics

Aitchison blitzes to epic 200m gold medal success

Danielle Aitchison produced the run of her life to secure 200m T36 gold in Paris. Credit: (Peter Milsom).

Danielle Aitchison executed the race of her life to destroy the field and post a huge new Oceania record time of 28.50 (-2.7m/s) en route to an emphatic victory in the women’s 200m T36 at the Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships this morning.

The 21-year-old Hamilton-based athlete, who claimed a 100m T36 silver medal earlier in the championships, scalped almost half-a-second from her lifetime best today to finish a massive 1.69 seconds clear of Australia’s silver medallist Mali Lovell.

Drawn in lane three and with the world 100m T36 gold medallist and defending champion Yiting Shi of China not starting the 200m, Aitchison went into the final with the fastest PB but she still had to withstand the immense pressure and expectation to deliver.

On a warm evening in the French capital, Aitchison appeared calm and relaxed on the start line and responded to the challenge in style.

Coached by Alan McDonald, the Kiwi made an outstanding start and quickly got into her sprinting. By the crown of the bend, she had already caught the stagger on all those outside her and entering the home straight she held a lead of more than five metres.

Down the home stretch she continued to extend her already sizeable advantage to record a stunning 28.50 – to wipe 0.48 from her New Zealand record of 28.98. The previous Oceania record held by Aitchison of 29.86 was posted at the 2019 Para Athletics World Championships in Dubai.

German Nicole Nicoleitzik claimed bronze in a PB of 30.84 to match the same colour medal she won in the 100m T36.

Aitchison said: “I am feeling so happy with my 200m, it was amazing. I had no idea where any of the girls I just had to keep running my own race until I got past that finish line.”

“I didn’t think I would run that fast, I was actually a bit tired today, so I took on a technical approach to get my arms and pelvis to tilt to cross that ground, which is exactly what I did.”

On what she said to her mum after her warm post-race embrace: “I couldn’t get a word in. She was beside herself crying saying how proud she was and how much she loves me.”

On how this sets up Aitchison leading into the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games she said: “It has made me feel confident I’m on that right pathway. It also gives me the confidence that I can win gold medals – it is a booster.”

New Zealand will be seeking more precious metal later today as Paralympic champion Anna Grimaldi competes in the women’s long jump T47 final at 7.20pm. Earlier at the Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships, Grimaldi grabbed a brilliant bronze in the women’s 100m T47 final.

***Note, the discrepancy between the previous national record and Oceania 200m T36 record of Aitchison. An area record has to be set at a fully sanctioned World Para Athletics (WPA) meet.

***Follow all the action on TVNZ+. Note, the coverage will be taken from the world feed so we cannot guarantee that all events featuring Kiwi athletes will be shown.

***For results go here