RaceRunner Rafi on crest of a wave after history made in Berlin

It’s a thumbs up from Rafi in Berlin. Pic: Ben Booth Photography
It’s a thumbs up from Rafi in Berlin. Pic: Ben Booth Photography

There’s no risk of Rafi Solaiman failing to look after his World Para Athletics European Championship silver medal – he’s going to sleep with it under his pillow.

With the way the Sheffield-based athlete earned it in Berlin, he’s just as well keeping it safe after a superb performance in the RaceRunning RR3 100m final.

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Never before had RaceRunning taken place at a European Championships, a sport which sees athletes with cerebral palsy and arthritis affects use a running bike with three wheels and a saddle, but no pedals.

And Solaiman made sure he was front and centre of the history in the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark, with the 18-year-old taking second place in a time of 19.33 seconds.

British teammate Gavin Drysdale pipped him to take gold but the silver was worth everything regardless for the teenager, hoping his sport can join the Paralympic programme in time for the 2024 Games.

“A medal to me is amazing, it’s just great, I can’t believe it,” said Solaiman, who is part of Sheffield-based disabled model agency Zebedee Management, after suffering a brain haemorrhage aged 12.

“It’s what I came out here to do, and I’ll go to sleep happy. I think I’ll sleep with the medal under my pillow.

“RaceRunning has never been here before so it’s a great opportunity for others to see it, because it’s such an amazing sport.

“In a few months I’m going to purchase a new bike, just to make me a bit more lightweight.

“It was great for two Brits to win and to be a Paralympian or a world athlete would mean the world to me, literally the world.”

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.

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