Hannah and 'Sally' storm to gold

Hannah Cockroft celebrates winning gold in the Women's 100m T34 Final at the Olympic Stadium, London

Mark Colbourne celebrates his gold medal-winning ride in the Olympic velodrome

First published in National News © by

World record holder Hannah Cockroft has stormed to Paralympic gold - aided by her wheelchair called "Sally".

The Halifax-based star was the overwhelming favourite going into the T34 100 metre final and did not disappoint the packed Olympic stadium as she put in a blistering performance.

Cockroft, 20, who has cerebral palsy, appeared stunned as she crossed the line and sent the Olympic stadium into a frenzy. She said of the win: "I was kind of deciding whether to cry or laugh or what to do. It is a bit surreal. I have been training for so long then it happens in just 18 seconds. I want to do it again. It was amazing."

Her victory capped a successful day for Paralympics GB, who netted two gold, eight silver, and three bronze medals. The team now sits third in the table, having won 20 medals including four gold, 11 silver and five bronze.

Ex-soldier Derek Derenalagi, who battled back from the brink of death after losing both his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, also received a hero's welcome as he took part in the F57 discus.

After being airlifted to the hospital at Camp Bastion following the blast in 2007, he was pronounced dead but amazingly one of the doctors saw a slight pulse movement. Whilst recovering in hospital, he became the inspiration for the founders of the Help for Heroes charity, who helped fund his journey to the Paralympics.

Another athlete who came back from brink of death was Martine Wright, who lost both her legs after being horrifically injured in the 7/7 bombings. She has now fulfilled her dream of representing her country at the Paralympics.

Wright, who proudly wears the number seven shirt in recognition of the day that changed her life, took her place in Britain's sitting volleyball team. Her side lost to Ukraine but she said: "As a team we are really proud of ourselves. We have only got two-and-a-half years of experience and this is the first ever GB team so I am really proud, and this is the start of our journey."

Welsh cycling superstar Mark Colbourne sent the velodrome into raptures for the second day running as he smashed the world record to get gold in the 3km pursuit. Colbourne, 42, who fought his way into the sporting elite after breaking his back in a paragliding accident, became the toast of Paralympic cycling with a devastatingly fast ride, a day after winning silver on his debut.

The sun shone on the crowded Olympic Park as organisers revealed that 122,000 spectators cheered on paralympians on the first day of competition. Locog chairman Lord Coe said the huge crowds are a "powerful and eloquent statement" about the status of Paralympic sport.

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