John McFall (athlete)

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This article is about the British athlete. For other persons with the same name, see John McFall (disambiguation).
John McFall
JohnMcFall.jpg
Personal information
Born (1981-04-25) 25 April 1981 (age 33)
Frimley, Surrey, England, UK
Sport
Country  Wales
 Great Britain
Turned pro 2005
Achievements and titles
World finals

100 m (T42): gold – 2007 IWAS World Wheelchair and Amputee Games; silver – 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup; silver – 2006 IPC World C'ships

200 m (T42): gold – 2007 IWAS World Wheelchair and Amputee Games; gold – 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup; bronze – 2006 IPC World C'ships; bronze – 2005 IPC Open European C'ships
Paralympic finals 2008 Summer Paralympics: 100 m – Bronze
Highest world ranking

100 m: 2nd (2007)[1]

200 m: 1st (2007)[2]
Personal best(s)

60 m: 8.55 s (2005)[3]
100 m: 12.70 s (2007)[4]

200 m: 26.02 s (2006)[4]
Updated on 14 September 2008.

John McFall (born 25 April 1981) is a Cardiff-based British Paralympic sprinter. In 2000, when he was 19 years old, his right leg was amputated above the knee following a serious motorcycle accident. He took up running again after being fitted with a prosthesis, and participated in his first race in 2004. The following year, he was selected to represent Great Britain at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Championships, and took the bronze medal in the 200 metres (sport class T42).

In the 100-metre sprint, McFall subsequently won silver medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in 2006 and the Visa Paralympic World Cup in 2007. On 6 July 2007, he was placed third at the Meeting Gaz de France in Paris, part of the ÅF Golden League; and achieved his personal best time (as at 30 May 2008) in the 100 metres of 12.70 seconds by winning silver at the Bayer International Track and Field Competition in Leverkusen on 10 August of that year. In his other main event, the 200 metres, he achieved a bronze in the 2006 IPC World Championships, and a gold at the 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup with a competition record time of 26.84 seconds. In September 2007, McFall was champion in both the 100 metres and 200 metres at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Wheelchair and Amputee Games. He was ranked first in the world in 2007 for the 200 metres, and second for the 100 metres.

McFall, who has been called one of the fastest men in the world over 100 metres and 200 metres in the class of above-the-knee amputees, competed for Great Britain in the 100 metres (T42) at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, winning the bronze in a time of 13.08 seconds.

Early years and education[edit]

John McFall was born on 25 April 1981[5] in Frimley, Surrey,[6][7] in England. Between 1994 and 1997 he attended school at Millfield in Street, Somerset,[8] where as a teenager he was a runner and hockey player.[9] In August 2000 while on a gap-year trip to Ko Samui, Thailand, after his A-levels,[8] he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. While riding a moped, he went round a corner too quickly and skidded. He put out his leg to stop the motorcycle from falling over, and smashed his knee. The motorcycle then fell on him, resulting in the chain severing major blood vessels in his leg.[10] He was flown to a hospital in Bangkok, but as he had damaged his lower right leg too severely, it had to be amputated above the knee after three days.[11] Upon returning to the UK, he spent about seven weeks undergoing rehabilitation at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, London.[10]

McFall spent the next year at home, during which he took up mountain biking and climbing and worked as a fitness instructor at his local leisure centre.[10] He also started running in the summer of 2003[8] as soon as he had his prosthesis fitted: "I love that sound of air rushing past your ears and the freedom of it. I missed that and I wanted to get that back."[11] After taking up his place at Swansea University[9] to pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in sport and exercise science,[8] he practised on the university's running track and also trained with a local running club, the Swansea Harriers Athletic Club.[12] However, he found running difficult and uncomfortable as his prosthesis was not designed for the purpose, and frequently got damaged. Upon making inquiries at the Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW), he was introduced to carbon-fibre running "blades".[10][11] He graduated from university with an upper second-class honours degree in summer 2004,[8][10] taking part in his first race at the Disability Sports Events (DSE) Championships in the UK[13] the same year.[9]

In September 2004 McFall embarked on postgraduate studies in sport and exercise science at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), subsequently graduating with a Master of Science (M.Sc.).[4][8] He took pre-medical examinations in 2008, and plans to retire from athletics after his 2009 season to train as a doctor.[14]

Athletics career[edit]

McFall with the gold medal he won for the 200 metres sprint at the Visa Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, England, on 13 May 2007

With his sprinting prosthesis, McFall began training with an ex-Paralympian. In early 2005 former Welsh international athlete Darrell Maynard[15] took over as his coach and he began training with an able-bodied squad. He was selected to represent Great Britain at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Championships which took place in August 2005 in Espoo, Finland,[10] a decision that greatly surprised him as he had not achieved the qualifying standard in races that summer.[13] In the Championships, his first international competition, he took the bronze medal in the 200 metres[9] and came fourth in the 100-metre race,[16] having competed in sport class T42 (single amputation above the knee).[17] McFall was subsequently placed on a funding programme, enabling him to become a full-time athlete.[10]

At the end of January 2006, two weeks before the Sparkassen Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, McFall's car was stolen from the car park of the Welsh Institute of Sport where he worked part-time and trained. His customized running prosthesis worth £3,000 was in the boot.[18] Following his appeal for the return of the prosthesis, he received a telephone call from two youths who said they "might be able to recover the lost leg" but asked "What is it worth?" Infuriated, McFall refused to pay anything and asked the youths whether they had considered what being an amputee was like. After McFall agreed to take no further action against them, the youths anonymously returned the prosthesis to the Institute a week later.[19][20] McFall went on to achieve a personal best of 8.55 seconds in the 60 metres race, and 28.21 seconds in the 200 metres on 4 February.[3][20]

His next major races were in September 2006 at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships, where he was awarded a silver medal in the 100 metres[5] and a bronze in the 200 metres.[5][21] The following year, on 13 May 2007, McFall struck gold and achieved a competition record time of 26.84 seconds in the 200 metres in his début at the Visa Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, England;[22] he also garnered a silver in the 100 metres.[23] Subsequently, on 6 July 2007, he was placed third at the Meeting Gaz de France in Paris, part of the ÅF Golden League.[24]

McFall achieved his personal best time (as at 30 May 2008) in the 100 metres of 12.70 seconds by winning silver at the Bayer International Track and Field Competition in Leverkusen, Germany, on 10 August 2007.[1] Later that year he was champion in both the 100 metres and 200 metres at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Wheelchair and Amputee Games in Chinese Taipei held from 9 to 19 September 2007.[25] In 2007, he was ranked first in the world for the 200 metres, and second for the 100 metres.[1][2]

McFall, who has been called "one of the fastest men in the world over 100m and 200m in the class of above-the-knee amputees",[26] made his Paralympic début for Great Britain in the 100 metres (T42) at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing. After a false start,[27] he took the bronze medal in 13.08 seconds behind Canada's Earle Connor (12.32 seconds) and Germany's Heinrich Popow (12.98 seconds).[28] Despite McFall's plans to retire from athletics after his 2009 season to study medicine, he has not ruled out competing at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. He has said, "It would be nice to do 2012. I'm interested in cycling and rowing, and I won't qualify as a doctor till 2013, so it wouldn't be impossible. We'll see. It's that constant striving for excellence, the hunger to do more."[14]

Although McFall was born in England, he lives in Cardiff and competes professionally for Wales. He has said, "Wales has been very good to me and I want to put something back. So I'm very proud to run for Wales." According to him, his motorcycle accident "has been, in some ways, the best thing that ever happened to me. It's given me a focus, a drive, every day is a new challenge. ... I always had a list of goals and aspirations which didn't change after my accident – they just changed direction. Losing my leg has changed my life, but it hasn't changed who I am."[12]

Medals[edit]

Time
(s)
Medal Date Event
100 m (sport class T42)
12.70[1]
(personal best)
Silver 10 August 2007 Bayer International Track and Field Competition
Leverkusen, Germany
12.79[24] Bronze 6 July 2007 Meeting Gaz de France, ÅF Golden League
Paris, France
12.83[25] Gold 13 September 2007 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Wheelchair and Amputee Games
Chinese Taipei
12.98[29] Gold 20 May 2006 ParalympicChallenge
Duderstadt, Lower Saxony, Germany
13.02[23] Silver 13 May 2007 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup
Manchester, England, UK
13.08[28] Bronze 14 September 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics
Beijing, People's Republic of China
13.55[30] Silver 9 September 2006 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships
Assen, Netherlands
200 m (sport class T42)
26.02[2]
(personal best)
Unknown 11 June 2006 [Not yet ascertained]
Manchester, England
26.08[31] Gold 17 June 2007 World Athletics Championships for the Disabled
Stadskanaal, Netherlands
26.20[32] Gold 14 September 2007 IWAS World Wheelchair and Amputee Games
Chinese Taipei
26.40[5] Bronze 5 September 2006 IPC World Championships
Assen, Netherlands
26.84[22]
(competition record)
Gold 13 May 2007 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup
Manchester, England, UK
27.04[33] Bronze 14 August 2005 [Not yet ascertained]
Berlin, Germany
28.08[34] Bronze 26 August 2005 IPC Open European Championships
Espoo, Finland

Personal life[edit]

Following the 2008 Paralympic Games, McFall returned to the UK from Beijing overland via the Trans-Siberian Railway.[9] He travelled from China to Mongolia and Russia, across Russia to the Ukraine, then to Hungary, Croatia and the Dalmatian coast. From there he took a ferry to Italy to meet his girlfriend in Rome. They then travelled by train across Italy and Austria, eventually returning to the UK around the middle of November 2008.[35] McFall hopes one day to take up his childhood plans of studying medicine, running across the Sahara Desert, crossing the Atlantic Ocean by rowboat, and obtaining a free-fall parachute licence.[9][12]

In his free time, McFall enjoys playing the guitar.[36]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d World wide ranking: T42 Male 100 2007, International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation, retrieved 30 May 2008 ; see also "Victorious Connor just off his record", Edmonton Journal, 11 August 2007, archived from the original on 14 May 2009 .
  2. ^ a b c World wide ranking: T42 Male 200 2006, International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation, retrieved 30 May 2008 .
  3. ^ a b Sparkassen-Cup 2006, Stuttgart, 04.02.2006, Leichtathletik.de, 4 February 2006, retrieved 30 May 2008 .
  4. ^ a b c John McFall: Profile, UK Athletics, retrieved 26 May 2008 .
  5. ^ a b c d Athletics, Men's 100m – T42, Final&#124, International Paralympic Committee, 9 September 2006, archived from the original on 18 December 2008 .
  6. ^ Athlete biography: McFALL John, Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, 2008, retrieved 14 September 2008 .
  7. ^ Some sources indicate that McFall was born in Hampshire: see, for instance, Carolyn Hitt (23 January 2006), "Disabled athlete left without a leg to run on", Western Mail  and "Amputee races on to chase dreams", South Wales Evening Post, 26 April 2008 .
  8. ^ a b c d e f Triumph over adversity, Old Millfieldian Society, 2008, retrieved 28 May 2008 [dead link].
  9. ^ a b c d e f Simon Hart (18 April 2008), "Road to Beijing Olympics: John McFall", The Daily Telegraph (London) .
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Julia Stuart [interviewer] (15 April 2007), "Personal column: Walking tall", The Independent (London) .
  11. ^ a b c Carolyn Hitt (23 January 2006), "Disabled athlete left without a leg to run on", Western Mail .
  12. ^ a b c "Amputee races on to chase dreams", South Wales Evening Post, 26 April 2008 .
  13. ^ a b John McFall (18 June 2008), Beijing Diary by John McFall, UK Athletics, retrieved 4 August 2008 .
  14. ^ a b Sheryl Garratt (26 July 2008), "Britain's Olympic athletes: Crunch time", The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Magazine) (London) .
  15. ^ Athlete: John McFall, Disability Sport Wales, 2007, retrieved 25 May 2008 [dead link].
  16. ^ Martin McElhatton (25 August 2005), Gold for GB at IPC Open European Athletics Champs, SportFocus, retrieved 26 May 2008 .
  17. ^ IPC Athletics Classification Handbook 2006 (PDF), International Paralympic Committee, 2006, p. 15 , para. 18.7; see also Noel Thatcher (15 July 2002), A classy system explained, BBC Sport, retrieved 27 May 2008 .
  18. ^ Athlete's prosthetic leg stolen, BBC News, 21 January 2006 .
  19. ^ Athlete's stolen leg is returned, BBC News, 26 January 2006 .
  20. ^ a b "John loses a leg – and finds two!", Insight (Otto Bock), June 2006: 11 .
  21. ^ Tony Garrett (14 September 2006), Encouraging signs, BBC Sport .
  22. ^ a b T42–200 metres, Men, Event 2, Results, International Paralympic Committee, 13 May 2007, retrieved 27 May 2008 .
  23. ^ a b T42–100 metres, Men, Event 15, Results (PDF), International Paralympic Committee, 13 May 2007, retrieved 27 May 2008 . See also Elizabeth Hudson (13 May 2007), GB's Rushgrove breaks world mark, BBC Sport .
  24. ^ a b Men – National – 100m T42, Meeting Gaz de France, July 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 . See also Elizabeth Hudson (5 July 2007), McFall aims to grab Golden chance, BBC Sport ; McFall claims third in Paris race, BBC Sport, 6 July 2007 .
  25. ^ a b McFall has golden fortunes in Taiwan, Disability Sport Wales, September 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 [dead link]. See also Medals for Britain at IWAS World Games, ParalympicsGB, British Paralympic Association, September 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 ; Bob Cypher (17 September 2007), "Athletics: McFall strikes double sprint gold in Taiwan", South Wales Echo ; John McFall does the double in Taiwan, Sports Council Wales, 14 September 2007, archived from the original on 11 December 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 ; Early success for Brits in Taipei, UK Athletics, September 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 ; McFall does the Golden Double in Taiwan, Welsh Athletics, September 2007, retrieved 28 May 2008 [dead link].
  26. ^ Sheryl Garratt (29 March 2008), "Final countdown [online version: Beijing 2008 Olympics: Final countdown for six British hopefuls]", The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Magazine) (London): 28 at 32–35 .
  27. ^ GB's McFall grabs sprint bronze, BBC Sport, 14 September 2008, retrieved 17 September 2008 .
  28. ^ a b Athletics Day 7 morning session review: Eight of the best at the Bird's Nest, Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, 14 September 2008, retrieved 14 September 2008 ; Gary Kingston (14 September 2008), "Paralympics: Redemption for Canada's Earle Connor as he cruises to sprinting gold", The Vancouver Sun [dead link].
  29. ^ Results for the ParalympicChallenge: Men's 100 m final race, starting class 42, ParalympicChallenge, Duderstadt 2006, 2006, retrieved 26 May 2008 [dead link]; Stolen leg runner wins first race, BBC Sport, 22 May 2006 .
  30. ^ Athletics, Men's 100m – T42, Final, International Paralympic Committee, 9 September 2006, retrieved 27 May 2008 .
  31. ^ World wide ranking: T42 Male 200 2007, International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation, retrieved 30 May 2008 . See also Bayer disabled athletes hope for World Championship tickets: Mester shines with new world record, Bayer, 17 June 2007 .
  32. ^ E-mail communication on 29 May 2008 between Jacklee and the Chinese Taipei Sports Federation for the Disabled (now the Chinese Taipei Paralympic Committee), organizers of the 2007 IWAS World Wheelchair and Amputee Games. See also IWAS World Championship, 9/13/2007, Taiwan, WCRacing.net, retrieved 9 November 2009 .
  33. ^ World wide ranking: T42 Male 200 2005, International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation, retrieved 30 May 2008 .
  34. ^ IPC Athletics Open European Championships, Espoo, 22.8.2005–27.8.2005, International Paralympic Committee, August 2005, retrieved 27 May 2008 .
  35. ^ John McFall (29 July 2008), John McFall's Beijing diary, UK Athletics, retrieved 4 August 2008 
  36. ^ "Life's a beach", video diary at Simon Hart (18 April 2008), "Road to Beijing Olympics: John McFall", The Daily Telegraph.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]