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Craig blitzes world record in heats

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6th September 2012

Josef Craig shed nearly nine seconds off his personal best to set an astonishing S7 400m Freestyle world record in the heats on day eight of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The 15-year old stormed clear of Croatia’s world champion Mihovil Spanja in his heat, clocking 4:45.79 to beat teammate Jonathan Fox’s old world marker by 1.47 seconds.

I just don’t know what to think about that – it’s just amazing.

Craig has enjoyed an encouraging Paralympic debut, setting a PB for sixth in the 50m Freestyle before finishing just 0.7 seconds off the podium in fourth with a PB in the 100m Freestyle.

But while he entered the 400m Freestyle as fourth fastest in the world this season, Craig admitted his time had taken even him by surprise.

“I just don’t know what to think about that – it’s just amazing,” said Craig. “I looked at the clock and thought that was a massive PB – that’s my achievements done for this competition.

“But then I got my focus back and saw world record next to the time and thought there must be a problem with the clock – I can’t break a world record yet, I’m still quite young and I’ve been taking it one step at a time.

“Obviously I’ve been training really hard but I didn’t think there was a world record time in there.”

European champion Jonathan Fox will swim next to Craig in the final after winning his heat to progress second fastest.

Josef is 15 and has been training really well so hats off to him for breaking that record by so much.

The S7 100m Backstroke champion took his heat out under Craig’s new world record pace but ultimately held off a spirited challenge from Russia’s Andrey Gladkov (4:50.06) to win it in 4:49.91.

“I went into the race to try and qualify first but you can’t really count your chickens when you’re out there on the blocks,” said Fox.

“My main rival before the Games was Spanja and I beat him by about three seconds.

“Josef is 15 and has been training really well so hats off to him for breaking that record by so much.”

Stephanie Millward, Louise Watkin and Claire Cashmore will stage a three-pronged challenge to Natalie Du Toit’s supremacy in tonight’s SM9 200m Individual Medley final.

I know for myself I’m going to do everything to be on that medal podium again if I can.

The South African qualified fastest from the heats in 2:36.92 but the Brits progressed second, third and fourth respectively.

Millward finished second in Du Toit’s heat in 2:38.47 while Watkin (2:39.21) touched out Cashmore (2:39.75) as they dominated the other heat to progress.

And while Watkin admitted the Brits would do their best to topple Du Toit in the final, she insisted her only focus was securing her own spot on the podium.

“We hope we can take on Natalie but we’ll see what we can do,” said Watkin, who won her first individual medal of London 2012 with S9 50m Freestyle last night.

“I know for myself I’m going to do everything to be on that medal podium again if I can.

“It took me a while to get to sleep last night so I haven’t had much rest. So I went into the heat this morning to see what I could do.

“I fought it out with Claire, was just able to stay in front and get myself into the final.”

Heather Frederiksen won her heat to set-up a mouth-watering final against USA's defending champion Jessica Long in the S8 100m Freestyle final.

The first 50m was nice and easy and comfortable so it's all promising for tonight.

While Long set a world record 1:06.06 to qualify fastest, Frederiksen held off the challenge of Australia's Maddison Elliott (1:07.82) to progress second in 1:07.53.

And having set a personal best 1:06.42 this season, Frederiksen insisted she was feeling positive as she looked to secure her third medal of the Games.

"I worked out a good racing plan with my coach (John Stout) for that and this morning went to plan," said Frederiksen.

"The first 50m was nice and easy and comfortable so it's all promising for tonight."

Emma Hollis was also in the S8 100m Freestyle and finished 18th overall, clocking 1:23.34 despite having broken her ankle less than a week ago.

Susie Rodgers made her fifth individual final of her Paralympic debut with a European record in the S7 400m Freestyle.

The 29-year old held off the challenge of Ukraine’s Ani Palian (5:23.49) to knock 0.15 seconds off her previous European marker and take the heat in 5:22.08 and progress second fastest.

S9 100m Backstroke silver medallist James Crisp progressed third fastest into tonight’s SM9 200m Individual Medley final.

The Brit, who won Paralympic gold in 2000 and World Championship gold in 1998 and 2002, showed he is still a force to be reckoned with in the medley as he touched second in his heat in 2:22.09.

Teenager Andrew Mullen reached his second final of his debut Paralympics as he set a British record in the S5 50m Backstroke heats.

The 15-year old sliced more than 1.5 seconds off his personal best as he touched in 39.69 to finish second in his heat and less than a second behind Hungary's third-fastest qualifier Zsolt Vereczkei (38.86).

Competing at his third Games, Anthony Stephens was only 0.6 seconds shy of a final spot as he finished 11th overall in a season's best 43.60.

Sean Fraser and Thomas Young secured final berths in the S8 100m Freestyle.

Commonwealth silver medallist Fraser impressed to touch just 0.01 seconds shy of his British record from 2010 and progress sixth fastest in 1:00.78 while Young made his fifth individual final of the Games, qualifying eighth in 1:01.85.

Daniel Pepper and Aaron Moores each made their second final of the Games in the SB14 100m Breaststroke.

Moores set a personal best 1:11.10 to progress sixth fastest while Pepper’s season’s best 1:11.27 was good enough to qualify in seventh.

Natalie Massey narrowly missed out on her third final of the Games as she finished ninth overall in the women’s SB14 100m Breast, ultimately touching 0.94 shy of the qualification spots in 1:26.56.

Finally, Rob Welbourn, Graham Edmunds and Gemma Almond missed out on their respective men's and women's S10 100m Freestyle finals.

Welbourn (55.45) and Edmunds (56.01) both set season's bests as they finished 10th and 13th overall while Paralympic newcomer Almond clocked 1:07.40 to finish 13th in the women's rankings.

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