LOCAL swimming sensation Hannah Russell smashed her personal best by SIX seconds to grab a Paralympic silver medal in the 400metres freestyle.
Hannah, who is only 16 and attends Gordon’s School in West End, was just 0.71 seconds behind Russian winner Oxana Savchenko
in a time of 4min 38.60sec.
She thrilled the partisan crowd in the Olympic Aquatic Centre but had a slight wait before realising she had nailed silver.
Hannah and her fellow sight-impaired S12 swimmers are unable to see the scoreboard but she must have had a pretty good idea she had picked up a medal from the loud cheers of the home fans
She said: “Everyone congratulates each other even though we don’t really have a clue how well we’ve done. It was only when I got out of the pool that I found out.
“The support was amazing and having the fans bringing me back to the finish line really helped me.”
Hannah, who was born in Chertsey but now lives in Ottershaw, joined the Playground to Podium programme two years ago, a vital scheme that funds young disabled sporting talent.
She had been expected to feature in the medals at Rio in 2016 but recent successes in high-profile meetings meant she was given an earlier-than-expected chance at the London Games.
Hannah will also be competing in the S12 100m butterfly (September 2), S12 100m freestyle (September 4), S12 100m backstroke (September 5) and S12 50m freestyle (September 7)
The Guildford City ace is next in action on Sunday in the S12 100m butterfly.
Earlier this month Hannah received a pre-Paralympics boost by picking up eight GCSEs, including an A* in her favourite subject PE.
Gordon’s headteacher Andrew Moss admitted “Everyone at the school is very proud of Hannah.”