Doncaster's Jo Butterfield wins gold at Paralympics
Even with the Paralympic gold medal hung safely around her neck, Jo Butterfield was still struggling to come to terms with her achievements in Rio on Sunday night.
The Doncaster F51 club thrower set a new world record of 22.81m with just her second attempt to take the Paralympic title at the Olympic Stadium.
It was 60cm clear of second-placed Zoia Ovsii of the Ukraine in second while bronze went to American Cassie Mitchell.
Butterfield, who hails from Woodlands but is now based in Scotland, was already the current holder of the world record having thrown 22.75m on the way to the European title in Grosseto, Italy back in June.
But while a World title has also arrived before then in 2015, Butterfield had, before this month, never previously appeared on the biggest stage of all at a Paralympic Games.
However there were no sign of nerves on her debut as she blew away her opposition to add gold to a super Sunday of performances for ParalympicsGB in Rio which saw an impressive 21 medals won in just 24 hours.
“I smashed it,” said the 37-year-old, who will also compete in the discus throw in Rio.
“This is what you dream of. It is what I’ve prepared for. It is what me, Phil (Peat) and Shona (Malcolm) work hard for and we have done it.
“It still hasn’t quite sunk in, we were whisked straight to a medal ceremony but I cannot stop smiling.
“It was hard work to get here – it’s been six years since a life changing experience so to then be here on the biggest stage in the world, it feels amazing.”
A former army civil servant, Butterfield’s life was turned upside down in 2011 when she was diagnosed with a spinal tumour but an operation to remove it resulted in her being left paralysed before the waist.
She first tried her hand at wheelchair basketball in the aftermath before then transitioning to athletics with immediate success, the latest of which saw her crowned Paralympic champion to complete the full set of international titles.
“My first throw was just short of the world record and that felt quite easy so I knew all I had to do was put a bit more speed into it,” she explained.
“The second one, I held my breath because I’ve had a bit of a sore shoulder so I knew I didn’t necessarily have six big throws in me so I had to get it in straight away. I held my breath and went for speed then saw it fly.
“The last three throws were a little bit emotional, It’s just unbelievable, it’s what I’ve worked for and it feels so good to have done it.”
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