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Paula beats weather to win silver

Kingston-based Velocity Wheelchair Racing Club had plenty to celebrate with their performances in Sunday's Flora Wheelchair Marathon.

They won two individual silver medals, but a puncture prevented their third representative from making it into the frame.

Paula Craig, third last year, claimed silver in this year's women's race.

The wet and windy conditions hampered the racers and she clocked 2.07:52, a shade slower than her 2.06:54 last year.

The 40-year-old former triathlete, the first person to complete the marathon as both an able-bodied and wheelchair athlete, said: "I was very pleased I didn't think I would get better than third."

"I was up with the other two for seven or eight miles and we were all very close at Tower Bridge.

"Francesca Porcellato, the Italian, went way up the hill and about halfway round I got into second place."

Paula was paralysed from the waist down after being knocked off her bike while training for the triathlon.

David Weir, who lives in Wallington, took silver in the men's race for the second year in a row. He won gold two years ago.

Weir led for the first five miles, but Mexican Saul Mendoza then got away.

The spray from his wheels gave Weir problems.

He and training partner Tush Patel were together for much of the race, but Weir got away in the later stages to clock 1.42:50.

Weir has already achieved the qualifying time for the Paralympics and flew out to a British training camp in Cyprus on Sunday.

Patel was going well until suffering a puncture after 21 miles, but that dashed his medal hopes and he finished fourth.

"Because I was near to the finish I decided to continue on a flat tyre because changing would have cost me more time," said Patel, runner-up in 2002.

"I got really cold during the race and was struggling to keep my muscles warm. It was difficult to keep going I struggle with cold conditions."

Patel and Craig head for Lyon, France, this weekend, in a bid to get Paralympic qualifying times in track events.

The Velocity athletes were greeted at the finish by coaches Chris Parsloe and Jenny Archer.

l Velocity's James Turner, from Sutton, finished fourth in the senior boys' mini-marathon in 14:01, missing out on a medal by just three seconds.

Wandsworth's Sarah Mesenthal was fifth in the senior girls' race.



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