Bethany lights up the stadium

Bethany Woodward
Bethany Woodward
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Bethany Woodward’s pace tore up the track and her smile lit up the Olympic Stadium as she claimed a silver medal in the women’s T37 200 metres on Wednesday night.

Eastbourne-born Woodward, who has cerebral palsy, drove through the last 50m from lane five and dipped on the line to take second place in a time of 29.65 seconds.

Johanna Benson of Namibia took the gold while fellow British runner and training partner Jenny McLoughlin came home in fifth.

Woodward’s silver medal added to the bronze she won the previous night in the relay.

It was the 18th track and field medal for Team GB and surpassed the target set by UK Athletics prior to the Games.

The final, in front of a hugely supportive capacity crowd of 80,000, was an epic performance from the 19-year-old. She shaved more than a second from her 30.74 personal best which she had achieved before the London 2012 Paralympics.

Speaking in the post-race interview and without stopping smiling for a second, Woodward explained she had no clue she had won a medal until she looked up at the scoreboard.

She said, “I felt like I got everything that I could possibly do right in that race.

“There’s only one chance out there and I was always going to give my utmost.

“Paralympic sport has never, ever seen anything like this before and, if the public falls in love with it just as much as we have fallen in love with it, then that will be great to have all that support.”

Woodward, who took gold at the world championships in the longer 400 metre distance, explained that maintaining her running style in the closing stages of the races is a real challenge.

She added, “It’s like a brick wall you have to break through to get it done. The CP (cerebral palsy) side is lazy and it’s a constant battle to push through that and say actually,

‘No you are going to do something great here.’ I was going ‘Come on! Push it’ and my body listened. It’s been unbelievable and it has surpassed all my expectations”

On Tuesday, Bethany was part of the British 4x100m T35/T38 relay squad who finished third behind winners China, with Russia to claim bronze.

Bethany was born Eastbourne but now trains and lives in Ferndown, Dorset. She is a world champion over 400m and this was her first Paralympics.

She finished fifth in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010 before peaking again in the 400m at the World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011 to be first across the line.

She also won World Championship bronze as part of the 4x100m relay team.