ST ANNES wheelchair racer Shelly Woods hailed the best atmosphere she had ever experienced as she qualified for tomorrow’s final of the T54 5,000m at the Paralympics in London yesterday.
She was the first Briton to be introduced to the near full house in the Olympic Stadium prior to her heat, and was met with the same huge cheer which has greeted every home competitor at the venue throughout the last month.
The 26-year-old came home third in her heat.
She hit the front to roars from the crowd with 300 metres to go in a tactical race, but was edged out down the home straight as she finished in 13 minutes 12.25 seconds.
The silver and bronze medallist from Beijing four years ago said: “The atmosphere was absolutely amazing.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it – it was immense.
“There are so many people out there, and I guess you can take it in different ways.
“But for me, it can only be good, because they are all shouting for me.
“The aim was to come top three and qualify.
“It was very tactical and most of the guys were quite cagey, but it’s job done and I’m looking forward to the final.”
Edith Wolf, the Swiss winner of the second heat, added: “I’ve never experienced such a crowd in the morning.”
Victory in Woods’ heat went to Amanda McGrory, of the United States, with China’s Liu Wenjun second.
The first three home in the heats qualified by right.
The 5,000 metres was the first race in a relentless London schedule for Woods, who is also competing in the 800 metres, the 1,500 and the marathon.
The final takes place tomorrow at 10.37am at the Olympic Stadium.