Mitchell, Houston, Williams earn medals on penultimate day of World Para Athletics Championships
by Kristen Gowdy
PARIS, FRANCE – Paralympians Cassie Mitchell (Warner, Oklahoma), Eva Houston (Omaha, Nebraska) and Taleah Williams (Norfolk, Nebraska) took home a trio of medals to give Team USA a boost on the second-to-last day of the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, France.
The podium performances increase the Americans’ overall medal count to 34 with one day of competition remaining. Team USA was led by Mitchell’s silver in club throw, while Houston and Williams nabbed bronzes in the 800-meter and long jump, respectively.
For the second time in Paris, Mitchell powered to a silver medal. Her second podium performance of the week – she also earned silver in discus – came in the women’s club throw F51, the event in which she won silver at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and at the 2017 world championships.
Mitchell’s best throw of 20.95 meters was a season’s best.
“Obviously the goal is always gold, but I feel very blessed to have come here and won two silver medals,” she said. “Paris 2024 is the big one, so everything is about taking that next step to 2024. I want that gold medal, the ultimate goal is to get that gold.”
Mitchell, who set an F51 championship record earlier in the week in discus, is also a full-time professor in biomedical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.
“My students back home were cheering, and they’re always so supportive,” she said.
Houston raced to her first career international podium in the women’s 800-meter T34 after taking fourth in the 100-meter earlier in the week. Both races are her top finishes at the international level, topping her sixth and eighth-place performances in Tokyo.
Her time of 2:08.74 put her comfortably in the bronze medal position, more than four seconds ahead of fourth-place finisher Fabienne Andre of Great Britain.
“This is incredible,” she said. “I was so nervous going into it, but I had a couple of phrases that I was repeating to myself and it worked out, so I’m thrilled.”
With her track season wrapped, Houston will next race in the Chicago Marathon this fall.
The 2020 Paralympian Williams returned to the long jump T47 world championships podium for the first time since 2017, setting a new personal best two times over en route to the bronze medal. Williams recorded a best jump of 5.65 meters on her third attempt and won her second career world championships medal.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “I’ve waited years to jump that far, so it’s exciting to see my work pay off and to be able to perform when I needed to. This meet has really proven to me that I can do what I have always known I can do. I’m just excited moving forward to keep working hard and to see what next year can bring.”
After advancing to the final of the men’s 100-meter T35 yesterday, Marshall Zackery (Ocala, Florida) and Matthew Paintin (Littleton, Colorado) finished sixth and eighth, respectively, for Team USA to round out their competitions.
Zackery, at 2020 Paralympian who ran a 13.30-second final today, recorded two sixth-place finishes in his third world championships campaign.
He said competing in Paris this week has allowed him to get a feel for what next year’s Paralympic Games Paris 2024 might look like.
“It’s been a great opportunity to get used to the time difference and other different cultural things as we build toward the Games next year,” Zackery said. “You can start to mentally prepare yourself because you know what to expect.”
Paintin, meanwhile, rounds out his worlds debut with a fifth-place finish in the 200-meter and an eighth-place result in today’s 100-meter as he looks to qualify for his first Paralympic Games next summer.
“I enjoyed being here, it was a great learning experience and I have lots to take away,” Paintin said. “I felt like I had some really solid races and some not so great races, but I know where I need to improve and I’m excited to hopefully come back here next year even better.”
In her preliminary heat this morning, Erin Kerkhoff (Coralville, Iowa) beat out the field to advance to tomorrow’s 400-meter T13 final. The 2020 Paralympian is seeking to add another medal to her 2023 world championships performance after taking bronze in the 200-meter. The Team USA universal 4x100-meter relay team of Noah Malone (Fishers, Indiana), Tatyana McFadden (Baltimore, Maryland), Jaleen Roberts (Kent, Washington) and Hunter Woodhall (Syracuse, Utah) placed first in their prelim, but received a disqualification due to World Para Athletics rule 23.3. Roberts and Woodhall each have races – the 200-meter T37 and 400-meter T64, respectively – to conclude their showings in Paris.
Competition at Charléty Stadium returns for the final day on July 17 at 9 a.m. local time. For viewers in the United States, all sessions are streamed live on Peacock, and live results can be found here. For live updates and results from Team USA, follow U.S. Paralympics Track & Field on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
Team USA Medals – July 16
Cassie Mitchell – women’s club throw F51
Eva Houston – women’s 800-meter T34
Taleah Williams – women’s long jump T47