Woods off to flyer on world stage

Shelly Woods in action
Shelly Woods in action
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FYLDE flyer Shelly Woods powered her way to the podium to clinch Great Britain’s first medal at the IPC World Athletics Championships in New Zealand.

The St Annes-based wheelchair racer won bronze in the 5,000m, just as she did at the Beijing Paralympics of 2008, to get her Christchurch campaign off to a successful start.

Woods, who is contesting four events at the championships, clocked a time of 12 mins, 52.82secs in a top-class race on a wet track at Queen Elizabeth II Park.

The American Amanda McGrory repeated her Paralympic glory by taking the gold and Switzerland’s Sandra Graf the silver.

“I’m happy with a bronze,” said 24-year-old Woods. “It’s a good start and hopefully I can build on that for the rest of the Championships.

“I got in a good break and I was happy with the girls I was with because they are good at working together. We stayed away from the rest of the girls that were further behind us, which was good. I felt really strong. I had to adjust my technique a bit because of the rain and push the best I could to get the best grip.

“The conditions weren’t the best out there, but I’m British and the conditions were British, so I was quite happy.

“It wasn’t ideal. Towards the end of the race I was losing my grip but I think I handled it quite well. If the weather improves and it gets drier I can get back to what I’ve been doing in training and I’m looking forward to that.”

Woods has little relaxation time between races but is managing to take her mind off the intense competition.

“I am watching the final season of 24 and Jack Bauer has got me pretty engrossed,” she added, “but at the same time you are really thinking about the races that are coming up.”

And Woods eased into tomorrow’s 800m final as the Fylde flyer challenges for medals in four events at the IPC World Championships in New Zealand.

The 24-year-old British No.1 wheelchair racer, who won bronze in the 5,000m in Christchurch over the weekend, finished second in her 800m heat today in a time of 1min, 57.29secs at Queen Elizabeth II Park.

St Annes-based Woods was pleased to win through but admits the forthcoming 1,500m, in which she set a world record last year, is her priority.

“The 800m was OK. It was nice to just get out and race and I felt good,” she said.

“My main event is he 1500m in a couple of days, and the 800m is good to kind of get me in the racing zone again.

“For me the 800m helps sharpen up my starts and it is actually relaxing because it isn’t my main event, so it was okay and I am looking forward to the final.

The double Paralympic medalist admitted her main rivals have an advantage over the two-lap distance. “The 800m for me is just training. I can hang with the girls but they are just a bit better at their starts.

“If you can get out really fast, which most of these girls can, and then hold your speed you are doing well, but I get out a little bit slower than them, though I do still have the speed.

“But you never know what will happen in a final and I am in with a shout.”

Having matched her 5,000m bronze from the Paralympics in China in 2008, Woods aims to go one better than the 1,500m silver she achieved in Beijing.

Woods won the first medal of the games for the Aviva-sponsored GB and Ireland team. Aviva has been supporting British athletes since 1999. To find out more about Aviva’s athletics sponsorship, go to aviva.co.uk/athletics.