Shaw answers the call to take Britain to European gold

Shaw helped Britain to relay gold by running the opening leg. Pic: Ben Booth Photography
Shaw helped Britain to relay gold by running the opening leg. Pic: Ben Booth Photography

Ten minutes before helping Great Britain win their final gold of the week in Berlin, Zac Shaw was sat in the stands not even knowing he was about to race.

The Cleethorpes runner competed in the heats but the 4x100m universal relay final’s opening leg was set to be in the hands of Zak Skinner – until disaster struck at the World Para Athletics European Championships.

Teammate Skinner suffered an injury and, with a visually impaired runner needing to open the race for Great Britain, Shaw was next in line to take the baton.

The only problem was the 22-year-old was nowhere to be found until the 11th hour, with the message passed to him in the nick of time to join Laura Sugar, Sophie Hahn and Nathan Maguire in the quartet.

“I was in the crowd just waiting for the race and suddenly my phone rang – and I reckoned I ought to answer it,” he explained.

“It was about ten minutes before, I was told there was a problem and by the time I was off the phone I probably broke a world record just sprinting to the call room.

“My warm-up was the actual race – I barely had any time at all.

“There are nine of us in this team so we’ve been training together all along, it’s a bit of a cliché but you’ve got to be there and stay ready at all times.

“Zak Skinner was meant to run but everyone is crucial in this team – this really proved that.”

The team’s gold medal was Great Britain’s 20th and last of the Championships, claiming 50 overall from their week-long adventure in Berlin.

That equated to nearly one per athlete though Shaw had to wait until the last moment to get his after previously suffering disappointment in his individual events.

The taste of relay success has him yearning for more but, with the universal event not part of the World Championships or Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the wait may go on for some time.

“We got around safely so that is all that matters,” added Shaw. “It’s fun and it’s competitive which is obviously the most important thing.

“You have got to fight for your place individually and that’s the main thing and then we combine as a team to showcase what we can do as a team on the big stage.”

British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.