Laughter best medicine for Woods
WHEN faced with the toughest challenge of her athletics career, Great Britain wheelchair racer Shelly Woods took solace the only way she knew how and it paid dividends.
The 22-year-old from Blackpool watched video streaming website YouTube, laughing over and over again at the moment which robbed her of Paralympic silver.
Woods came second in the women's T54 5,000 metres on Monday but had to return her medal after the International Paralympic Committee ordered a re-run following a crash metres before the last-lap bell which saw more than half the field strewn across four lanes of the Bird's Nest Stadium track.
But yesterday the 2007 London Marathon champion kept a steady head in a tactical race to end the week where she had begun it – on the podium – after winning bronze in the re-run final.
"As a person I've learnt how to deal with it and the best way is to laugh it off," said Woods, who injured her spine after falling out of a tree aged 11.
"I've been watching YouTube and, as terrible as the crash was, the guy who rang the bell on the last lap, he broke the bell – it came off in his hand.
"Every time I think about the crash I just remember that guy breaking the bell in his hand and it just tickles me to think about it.
"It's had 70,000 hits which is amazing for a wheelchair race – people all over the world have been clocking in."
Woods punched the air in both delight and relief after completing the re-run final in 12 minutes 29.32 seconds, 0.25secs behind American winner Amanda McGrory, who edged out Diane Roy by one-hundredth of a second. The Canadian had won gold in the first run.
"I'm ecstatic with bronze," the Paralympic debutant said. "It's my favourite event that I race and probably one of my strongest and to win a bronze medal in a 5,000-metres Paralympic final is just a dream come true.
"The first time being up on that podium with silver was amazing, but this one, no-one can take it away from me.
"I really earned this one and I beat the girls when they were at their best, they were all on their wheels, racing for the line – I'm really, really happy and just so glad it's over.
"I got through it and did myself justice on the track."
Woods' medal took the British athletics team's haul to six with four silvers and two bronze.
She returns to the Bird's Nest Stadium on day seven to compete in the women's T54 800m semi-final – the final is tomorrow – before taking part in the 1,500m on Monday and Tuesday and the marathon on Wednesday.
She would be happy to make the 800m final, but the following events could yield more medals – possibly even the gold that has proved so elusive for the athletics team.
"I'm pushing well and I'm strong – who knows? I'll do my best to have a go and see what happens."
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