Dan Pembroke (coach: John Trower, club: Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) became Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s fifth World Para Athletics champion of the week after retaining his F13 javelin title at Kobe 2024.

The reigning Paralympic champion won the second world title of his career and laid down a marker ahead of Paris 2024, after throwing a season opener of 66.96m with his final throw of the competition. On a busy day seven for GB & NI, Harrison Walsh (Ryan Spencer Jones, Swansea) won his first global medal with bronze in the F64 discus.

There were also fourth place finishes for Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) and Mo Jomni (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) in their respective finals during the evening session. Hannah Cockroft (Paul Moseley, Leeds), Fabienne Andre (Richard Chiassaro, Harlow) and Ali Smith (Benke Blomkvist, Harlow) all booked their places in world finals during the morning session, while Marcus Perrineau-Daley (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) just missed out on a place in the men’s T52 100m final after finishing sixth in his heat.

Pembroke has been a dominant force in the F13 javelin since his Paralympic and European double back in 2021, and now he has a second world title to his name after retaining the title he secured in Paris last July. The world record holder started confidently in the competition as his first mark measured in at 61.89m, but after round one he sat in second behind Iran’s Ali Pirouj whose mark came in at 62.61m.

However, the order was switched around from round two onwards when Pembroke retook the lead with 63.59m. He extended the lead further in round three with 64.79m, with 64.69m soon following.

No improvement followed in round five. As Pirouj failed to overhaul the Briton on his final throw, the Briton knew he would be confirmed as the world champion again, and it fired him up as he threw the furthest of his series with 66.96m.

After his on-field celebrations, Pembroke reflected: “This was my season opener, so I knew it would be a bit sketchy, but during the first few sets of throws, I was telling myself ‘Come on, you’ve got more than this’.

“That last throw I managed to get 66.96m which got the job done, so I was happy to make that gap between first and second even wider which is what we like. When you’ve had a long winter of training, you aren’t sure what you are capable of in your first competition, never mind when it is a world final.

“So, the pressure can get to you, but I felt like I relaxed into it towards the last attempt, so it just proves what is to come. A lot of my throws were going up and up about a metre each time, so by the time Paris comes around and I’ve got a few more competitions under my belt, we’ll be breaching that 70-metre mark again.”

“I’m working with John Trower now, Steve Backley’s former coach, and we’ve been working on a few things and some simple techniques, but I didn’t quite manage them today as I got quite hyped up for my season opener. But we are going to nail it in Paris.”

At the start of Thursday’s evening session, Harrison Walsh secured his first world medal as he moved into bronze medal position on his final throw in the F64 discus final. The Welshman cut a frustrated figure during his first five rounds as he struggled to find a throw to satisfy him, but a final round effort of 52.48m moved him above Estonia’s Egert Joessar who had gone into third position after a fifth-round throw of 51.01m.

Walsh fouled on his first attempt and then settled with a comfortable 50.13m and further improved to 50.50m in round four. Knowing a bigger throw was within his armour, he went out to 52.48m on his last effort to secure the first global medal of his young career.

USA’s David Blair won with a throw of 60.13m with Croatia’s Ivan Katanusic second with 53.89m. Afterwards, Walsh reflected: “I only really got it in the last round. I wasn’t at my best by any stretch, there is no excuse there.

“I have changed a lot after a poor performance at worlds last year, and we are all really excited at what is going to happen with that, but unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get it today. The important thing is that I got the job done. I was here to win a medal and that is what I have done.

“I will look back and enjoy the fact that I have won the bronze, but I just need time to process it all. That could have quite easily been fourth today, so it is important to know I can respond well.

“At the end of the day this is still an up, just not as much of an up as I wanted it to be.” In her third final of the Championships, Mel Woods was a very close fourth in the women’s T54 400m after a fine display to clock at time of 55.33.

China’s Zhou Zhoaqian – the eventual gold medallist – started ferociously and was on the Scots shoulder as they headed round the bend, while Noemi Alphonse (MRI) went off hard in the outside lane to lead for long stages. Woods was always in the hunt for medals as they entered the home straight but despite her best efforts, she narrowly crossed the line just outside the medals behind Zhoaqian, Alphonse and Tian Yajuan (CHN).

Earlier in the day, she had scorched her way into the final during the morning session after a superb 54.77 clocking to go through as quickest overall. Buoyed by the vocal crowd down the backstraight, Woods was aggressive from the gun and ate into the stagger on the athletes outside her in the opening 200m.

There was no relenting from the Scottish athlete as she continued to press and earn the heat victory which she achieved. Back to final action, there was a fourth-place finish for Mo Jomni in the men’s T53 800m after a tough push in the Kobe Memorial Universiade Stadium.

Jomni reached the break in fourth position, but he was hot on the tail of the other three athletes as he manoeuvred in lane two to try and battle for position. However, 600m in, the leading three found an extra gear to pull away from the Briton who crossed the line in 1:46.50.

The race was won by Frenchman Pierre Fairbank in 1:43.80. During the morning session in Japan, Hannah Cockroft (Paul Moseley, Leeds) and Fabienne Andre (Richard Chiassaro, Harlow) made easy work of their respective women’s T34 800m heats as they advanced as first and second quickest overall.

Cockroft – who achieved her 15th world title on Tuesday evening in the 100m – lined-up for the 800m as she targets her fifth world title over the distance. From the gun, she was focused on attaining a quick time as she opened a significant advantage by the break.

With China’s Lan Hanyu – the new silver medallist in the 100m – also in her heat, Cockroft intended to lay down a marker to the young field and pushed to a Championship record of 1:54.83. In heat two, Andre ensured the Britons were on top in each heat as she also went out hard and opened up a large advantage over the rest of the field by the time she hit the 200m mark.

With eyes on her PB of 2:03.19, the 2021 European champion continued to keep pressing on the second lap and although she was just outside her lifetime best in 2:05.86, she was the second fastest overall from either heat, so will be targeting a medal on Friday evening. It was all smiles for Ali Smith (Benke Blomkvist, Guildford & Godalming) as she crossed the line with a season’s best in the women’s T38 400m heats to progress into Saturday’s final.

Smith, starting out in lane nine, got out well and ran a really controlled race throughout. As the eventual race winner Karen Palmeque Moreno (COL) and Margarita Goncharova (NPA) pushed ahead, Smith remained composed and finished strongly down the home straight for third place and an automatic qualification spot.

The 2020 Paralympic silver medallist in the relay, recorded a time of 1:03.56 to leave the track in high spirits ahead of the relay on Friday and her 400m final on Saturday. In his second World Para Athletics Championships, Marcus Perrineau-Daley (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) just missed out on a place in the men’s T52 100m final despite setting a season best of 18.36 (1.1).

Going in heat one with the first three qualifying automatically with the next two fastest going through, the Weir Archer Academy athlete slipped at the start, and he was battling to get back in contention throughout, but in crossing the line in sixth place, he would did not progress into Friday morning’s final. The 2024 World Para Athletics Championships will be live on the IPC YouTube channel. 

The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medal tally:

Gold (5): Hollie Arnold [F46 Javelin], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [T64 High Jump], Hannah Cockroft [T34 100m], Sabrina Fortune [F20 Shot Put], Dan Pembroke [F13 Javelin]

Silver (1): Thomas Young [T38 100m]

Bronze (2): Zac Shaw [T12 100m], Harrison Walsh [F64 Discus]