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Bronze joy for Ringwood's bethany
RINGWOOD's Bethany Woodward picked up a bronze medal at the Paralympics on Tuesday night.
Nineteen-year-old Bethany was part of the British 4x100m T35/T38 relay squad who finished third in the Olympic stadium behind winners China, with Russia claiming the bronze medal.
She ran the second leg, being handed the baton by first leg runner Olivia Breen.
However, despite crossing the finish line in third place, the British team had to wait for confirmation of their medal because of confusion in the final baton changeover.
Questions were raised as to whether the baton was passed between Katrina Hart and Jenny McLoughlin before the yellow line on the final leg.
But eventually judges ruled that the changeover was good, to the delight of the huge 80,000 crowd packed into the stadium and the many fans cheering on the British squad.
Bethany, who has cerebral palsy, is a world champion over 400m and is competing in her first Paralympics.
The former Ringwood School and Ringwood Waldorf School pupil has already competed at the highest level, turning out at the Commonwealth Games before being crowned 400m world champion at the age of just 18 years old in Christchurch, New Zealand, in January of this year.
Bethany, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was a year old, said: “This is my first Paralympic games and as one of the youngest members of the athletics team I had to fight for my place.
“Selection required consistent top five performances in a strong field of young improving athletes.
“To qualify for the 200m I reduced my personal best from 30.74 to 29.89 running a new European Record and the second fastest time in the world this year.
“That performance came after a week of heartache when due to fatigue my right side protested and my ability to run 400m world standard times vanished.”
She added: “My parents looked after eight children with various disabilities and I grew up alongside them.
“This meant I had no television and spent my time running around the forest and helping my father look after a small woodland.
“We also went on holidays with the children and this meant I had a very active life. I first abseiled when I was just three-and-a-half years old.
“No one was held back because of their disability so the environment was perfect for me.”
Bethany did not start athletics until she reached secondary school and it wasn't until she was 17 that she immersed herself in the sport she now excels at.
VERWOOD’S paralympian Darren Kenny also claimed a bronze medal in the men’s individual C3 pursuit at the London Velodrome last week.
The six-times Paralympic champion defeated Australian rival David Nicholas after producing a blistering ride to set a new world record.