Paralympian Danielle Brown made it two gold medals for Shropshire in two days as she retained the archery title she won in Beijing four years ago.
The 24-year-old from Telford beat fellow Brit Mel Clarke 6-4 in a tense final in the women’s archery individual compound at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London yesterday.
Clarke had the chance to take the title if she hit a 10 with her final arrow but could only manage a seven, her worst arrow of the match.
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Speaking afterwards, a delighted Brown said: “It’s crazy, it was amazing I’m in shock. It’s just brilliant.
Brown admitted to feeling the pressure over the last few days. “Everyone expects me to win and I do, too,” she said.
“It had been playing with my head, but I’ve been working with a psychologist and she got me through, shot by shot.”
Brown celebrated her victory with her parents last night. She said she enjoyed the Paralympic experience and it was more friendly than other competitions
Brown will now have the choice of whether she wants her gold post box – an honour given to all Olympic and Paralympic champions – in Telford or in her home county of Yorkshire.
Her victory follows success in Beijing four years ago and in Delhi two years ago, where she made history as the first disabled athlete to represent – and win a medal for – England in an able-bodied event at the Commonwealth Games.
Brown, originally from Steeton, West Yorkshire, moved to Telford last year to be nearer Lilleshall where she trains for up to seven hours a day, five to six times a week.
Celebrating her gold medal, she admitted to nerves in the earlier rounds due to ‘crazy’ pressure in the build-up to her title defence in her home country.
She said: “I’ve been really feeling it the last couple of weeks, so to actually come here and manage to keep my head in the right place, I’m chuffed to bits about that.
“It’s been crazy. I didn’t think it would have affected me the way it has. My whole family and friends were watching. It was just incredible – I was shaking so much.
“In Beijing it was the first time individual compound had been in the Games so I was the first winner, but this time round I was defending champion.
“I felt the pressure more in the quarter-final but I spoke to my psychologist and we talked through every arrow.”
Brown, who is coached by her sister Georgina, an able-bodied archer, took up the sport aged 15, four years after she was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a neurological condition that causes her severe burning pains in her feet. Despite the chronic pain she refuses to use a wheelchair.
Brown, 24, wearing her distinctive pink hat, and the 30-year-old Clarke could not be separated in the final’s first set, which they scored 27-27. They were then tied at 29-29 in the second before Brown took a 4-2 lead by shooting three arrows of nine. Clarke took the fourth set 29-26 to level at 4-4 and force a fifth set.
“Mel shot really well and pushed me so hard I’m so pleased that I managed to keep myself together. It was great shooting from Mel,” said Brown. Of her medal ceremony, she said: “I was shaking so much, it was the most incredible feeling ever.” She said her experience of the Paralympics was very different to that at the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s been phenomenal, I really enjoy the Paralympics as it’s special and the attitude of everyone is great and is totally different to the able-bodied games,” she said.
Brown said she had no intention of forging a career in law but would instead focus on winning her third successive Paralympic gold in 2016.
“I definitely want to go to Rio,” she said. “I don’t want to go back into law, archery’s way more fun.
“The more tournaments I go to, the more experience I get and the better I get.”
A spokesman for Royal Mail said: “If, and I know it’s a big if, Mickey Bushell wins again and Danielle decides to have her postbox in Telford, I don’t think there is another town with three, so Telford would become a bit of a golden town.”
Kuldip Sahota, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “A second gold medal for Telford and Wrekin. I’m really chuffed.
“Let’s hope the gold medals for Telford and Wrekin just keep coming and the Royal Mail keep painting the post boxes.”