Blackpool’s Towers qualifies for Paralympic final after nervous wait

Paralympic finalist Isaac Towers
Paralympic finalist Isaac Towers

Blackpool Wyre and Fylde wheelchair athlete Isaac Towers will contest Wednesday night’s T34 800m final at the Rio Paralympics after qualifying as a fastest loser.

The 17-year-old former AKS pupil finished fourth in his heat on his Paralympic debut, and with only the first three qualifying automaticially he had to wait anxiously for the result of the second heat before his place in the final was confirmed.

Towers looked comfortable in third place for most of the two laps but was caught on the line by the Finn Henri Manni.

Towers finished in 1.47,75, which was 0.24secs behind Manni and well outside the personal bestof 1.44.67 he set in Italy to be crowned European champion in June.

And with only the two fastest losers to qualify, Towers faced a few nervous moments before the second heat finished and the Catterall-based teenager was confirmed as the last qualifier for the final, which takes place at 9.50pm UK time on Wednesday night.

The Paralympic record was broken in both heats, the Tunisian Walid Ktila setting a new benchmark in Towers’ heat with a time of 1.46.34 after a titanic duel with Australia’s Rheed McCracken.

But his record lasted less than five minutes, until Mohamed Alhammadi of the UAE powered clear of the field to take the second heat in an amazing 1.44.96.

Towers’ Paralymics GB team-mate Ben Rowlings failed to qualify.

The T34 category is for athletes with cerebral palsy.