Bath Paralympic hero Paul Blake grabs a silver on big family night
Great Britain’s Paul Blake continued his remarkable family story by winning Paralympic silver over 400 metres at a packed Olympic Stadium tonight.
The 22-year-old son of a Star Wars actor and ballet dancer, who trains at Bath University, ran a new personal best of 54.22 seconds to claim the hosts’ 14th athletics medal of a prolific Games.
Only a huge world record from Russia’s Evgenii Shvetcov denied the Dorchester athlete, who has cerebral palsy, the T36 title and there was no sign of disappointment for the world champion as he celebrated wildly on crossing the line.
There were shouts of ’Come on Paul’ as Blake took to his blocks and he was roared round the track by deafening cheers, but there was simply no stopping the imperious Shvetcov, whose time of 53.31secs knocked 0.82s off the previous world record.
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Indeed, Blake’s time was only 0.09s off the old mark.
The Briton’s performance wrote yet another chapter in an incredible family story.
His actor father, also Paul, played bounty hunter Greedo in Star Wars, his mother, Kate, was a dancer with the Royal Ballet and his grandfather played tennis at Wimbledon.
Blake said: ``It was absolutely amazing. The crowd was amazing, my family have been amazing with the support.
“The British public have been amazing on Twitter and Facebook. I soaked up the atmosphere before the race as well. I’m pretty speechless at the moment.
“(The crowd) is like having an extra pair of legs, it’s so uplifting. The roar is massive. I was trying not to get too excited and concentrate on my race.
“I tried to go with (Shvetcov) but he’s so strong he out-kicked me. He was the better man on the day.
“My granddad played tennis before it went professional, my mum was in the Royal Ballet School, so I’m lucky with the sporting background.”
Blake's victory followed an impressive 1500m bronze for David Devine in the opening track event of the night.
The 20-year-old produced a gutsy display as he was roared down the home straight by the capacity crowd to finish a comfortable third in the T13 race.
Devine, who has a visual impairment, clocked 3:49.79, a European record and huge personal best.
He moved up the outside and into the lead at the bell only to be quickly pegged back, but he held his form well and came home strongly, more than two seconds clear of fourth.
That the first two both clocked world records – winner Abderrahim Zhiou is a T12 runner and silver medallist David Korir T13 – showed the quality of field the Liverpool athlete was up against.