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Tähti wins 100-metre gold in London, despite wheelchair malfunction

Finland's 2016 Sports Personality of the Year of the year, multiple Paralympic gold medal winner Leo-Pekka Tähti has once again won first place in a T54 class 100-metre race – this time at the World Para Athletics Championships in London. He easily won his heat, as a great start made up for a delay past the halfway mark, when a support strap on the back of his chair broke.

Finnish Paralympic athlete Leo-Pekka Tähti is the reigning world champion in the 100-metre T54 class event, after winning an exciting competition in London. His winning time was 13.95 seconds, beating second-place Liu Yang from China by 0.12 seconds.

The World Para Athletics championship is Tähti's third: he previously held the title in 2011 and 2013. He won silver in last year's competition in Doha. Including his Paralympic and European championship wins, this London victory brings his gold medal total to 22.

"To win another world championship is so important to me, especially as I’ve had some problems this summer with my elbow. Of course, I am a little put out about the technical problem: I could have maybe gained a world record without it, or at least been close," Tähti said.

Tähti's gold medal-winning time could have likely been even better if his back strap wouldn't have come lose in the final metres of the competition. 

"The welded joint on the back strap broke and it came off. I suddenly lost all of that support. I was a little confused about what was happening at first. Fortunately it happened so late in the race that I was able to just wheel past the finish line, and it was still enough for the win. I felt as if I would have suddenly lost my balance; it was a good thing I didn't fall. I realised I just had to try to keep the momentum to the finish line. Thank goodness Liu Yang was far enough behind me by that point that he couldn't catch up. Quite a series of events," he told the Finnish Athletics Federation in their press release.

The five-time Paralympic champion briefly stopped pushing and lost his rhythm but he was still able to cross the line to reclaim the world title he won in 2013.

200-metre race set for Tuesday

Leo-Pekka Tähti's next race in London will take place on Tuesday, when he takes part in the 200-metre competition.

"I've got to bring my chair in to be welded to fix the back strap. The 200 metre is a bit of mystery. I feel like I'm in good shape and things are looking up, but the second 100 metres of the race is up in the air. My body is healthy and my nervous energy is giving me the boost it should, so that has usually meant a good turn in the 200. A few days in between the races will be welcome," he says.

His elbow hasn't been giving him any noticeable problems, either.

"It was a little touchy during the preliminary runs, but during the final, it didn't bother me at all. Have to be happy about that," he said.

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