Jonathan Broom-Edwards (coach: Bethan Partridge, club: Newham and Essex Beagles) maintained his status as the globe’s very best as he won back-to-back World Para Athletics Championships titles in his first competition this year, also claiming the British team’s second gold in Paris on a night where they more than doubled their medal tally.
Broom-Edwards arrived in France as the current Paralympic and world champion in the men’s T64 high jump but having not jumped all year due to injury. Still, he enjoyed another memorable, and thrilling, night on the global stage as he won gold again, sharing it with Maciej Lepiato of Poland as both produced nearly the exact same series and jumped a best of 2.05m.
His success was sandwiched in between brilliant bronzes, and first World Para Athletics Championship medals, for Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste, Cleethorpes), who ran a personal best in the men’s T12 100m, and debutant Danny Sidbury (Chris Parsloe, Sutton & District), who was required to spring himself in a gripping men’s T54 5000m final. After gold and silver on day one, the second night ended with GB&NI with five total medals.
DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION sounds good right!? 🏆— Jonathan Broom-Edwards MBE (@BroomEdwardsT44) July 11, 2023
Swept the card clean until the final height 🧹
The cleanest competition card of my career & a higher heights are coming! 💪🏻
Your support has been incredible! 🙏🏻
Medal ceremony (& lots of coffee) today!🥇🇬🇧
📸 Peter Milsom pic.twitter.com/ApPfkBQnoZ
Elsewhere Paralympic champion Thomas Young (Joe McDonnell, Charnwood) finished a valiant seventh in the men’s T38 100m final after an injury hit season so far while multiple World Championship medallist Maria Lyle (Team East Lothian) guaranteed herself her own shot at the podium after cruising through the heats of the women’s T35 200m.
Broom-Edwards said: “It was poetic. The fact that that was a season opener for me because I’ve had a bit of a hard run in – tearing my hamstring about eight weeks ago. To get to the start line, I’m really proud. To be able to share it with someone who I’ve had this rivalry with for so many years, he’s the same age as me, we’re still here; I think it is poetic.”
Broom-Edwards chose to enter the men’s T64 high jump final at a height of 1.91m, at which point the battle for medals had been reduced to four. Unlike Lepiato, Broom-Edwards chose to skip at every other height from then onwards before it was finally equal and head-to-head at 2.05m.
The slight increase to 2.07m would prove tricky for both as they exchanged missed attempts and even with individual honours on the line neither Broom-Edwards or Lapiato could clear at 2.07m and so shared gold.
He added: “We both had a perfect scorecard, similar to what happened at the Tokyo Olympics, so it feels wonderful. I’ve done what I came here to do – not quite the personal best I was aiming for. I’m happy with what I’ve done, just not fully content. There’s more in the tank and that’s what I’m going to be aiming for the rest of the season.”
Meanwhile Sidbury was the last of the British athletes in action in what would be an incredible men’s T54 5000m final. Swiss legend Marcel Hug dictated the majority of the race, varying the pace from fast to slow and back to fast again, as Sidbury kept focussed on his own task.
Hug would nearly lap the field as he won gold in a Championship record by almost 40 seconds but that didn’t mean there wasn’t drama, which Sidbury was well and truly a part of, in the fight for silver and bronze, which fluctuated between four being in contention, then the whole field and then back to four.
Hug aside, the whole field was together with three laps to go but with just 400m remaining it was down to four with Sidbury stalking at the back. He made his move as the race for silver and bronze became essentially a 100m sprint and he claimed a brilliant bronze.
He clocked 10:15.44 minutes for his first career world medal and said: “It was a bit of a crazy race. It was a mixture of speed and some up and downs. When you have those big fluctuations in pace it can really take it out of you.
“Marcel made a very big break. I tried to go with him, and he wasn’t getting any further away but I wasn’t closing, and at that point you’ve got to make a decision, do you press on and risk burning out or do you ease up and play a more tactical race.
“I decided to ease up and try to battle for silver or bronze. This is my first World Championships, just to make the final was quite a big achievement in itself, so I am very happy to come away with a medal.”
Shaw ran the race of his life in the men’s T12 100m final to claim the British team’s third medal of these Championships with a brilliant bronze. He shaved 0.01 seconds personal best in clocking 10.85 (0.8) for bronze and almost chased down Moroccan Mouncef Bouja as well.
Just 0.01 separated the pair in the end as American Noah Malone took gold in 10.53 but bronze still represented a first career World Para Athletics Championships medal for a delighted Shaw, who equalled his previous personal best just last month.
He said: “I feel really good, I’ve got so much adrenaline in my body I feel like I just need to take a breath and relax and let sink in what happened. The athlete in me is thinking, why didn’t I dip and get a silver? But I’m so, so grateful to be on the podium and pick up a bronze medal.
“I missed out on Rio and Tokyo [Paralympic Games] and they both hurt in different ways. I’m still running on that pain, it’s like petrol. So, a year out from the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games – obviously I want to be on the podium – but first and foremost I need to be on the plane there. So hopefully I’m in a good position.”
Young was the first British athlete to complete a final during the day two evening session in Paris and got a great start out of the block in the men’s T38 100m medal showdown. In an ultra-competitive field Young pushed all the way to clock 11.35 (-0.2) to finish seventh.
He said: “I’ll be honest, it wasn’t really good enough. It’s such a world class line up and I am really happy that I got myself onto the start line. I’ve had a few injuries – Commonwealths last year and [another] this year – but that’s not an excuse, I just wasn’t good enough on the day.
“The injury around the Commonwealths [came] when I was looking so quick. My support team got me back onto the track so effectively and then I picked up another injury around British indoor champs in February and it took just a bit too long to heal. That’s not an excuse, I was beaten by the better people on the day.”
The only British female in action during the session, Lyle made smooth work of progressing to the women’s T35 200m final. After a good start out of the blocks, Lyle was one of three athletes in a line coming out the bend alongside China’s Zhou Xia and Iraq’s Fatimah Suwaed.
Zhou would just edge ahead to take the win in the first heat while Lyle – an experience World Para Athletics Championship performer with multiple medals over the distance – herself pushed away from Suwaed to claim second place and an automatic qualifying spot in a time of 31.22.
She said: “It wasn’t my best 100m around the bend, so I really had to work harder than I wanted to. But I’m happy with my last 100m and I feel like I slowed down, so I know what I need to do come the final.
“There were some new faces as well as a lot of the girls I ran with in Tokyo [Paralympic Games]. But everybody has really stepped the mark up so I just have to go and give it my all, that’s the only thing I can do.”
Competing at his third career World Para Athletics Championships, Luke Sinnott (Roger Keller, Bournemouth) was among the contenders in the men’s T63 long jump final that would kick off the British action on the second evening in Paris. However, Sinnott would register three fouls and so ended the competition without registering a mark.
He said: “Obviously it was not how I hoped it would go. Nothing has really gone to plan these last couple of weeks and unfortunately, I was out there on a good, quick track with some good jumps coming but missing that board.
“It was millimetres really, but that’s all it takes. A painful day really – if I’d got one on the board I’d definitely be in the last eight and probably fighting for a medal, but I’m not. You get three jumps to get it in and unfortunately I didn’t.”
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:
GOLD:  Gavin Drysdale [Men’s T72 100m], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [Men’s T64 high jump]
SILVER:  Rafi Solaiman [Men’s T72 100m]
BRONZE:  Zac Shaw [Men’s T12 100m], Danny Sidbury [Men’s T54 5000m]