“This announcement is a direct legacy of London 2012 where the sport’s profile was raised to astronomical levels. Over 1.1 million tickets were sold for the Olympic Stadium whilst many global broadcasters pulled in record audiences for track and field events."
IPC Athletics, the global governing body of para-athletics, has today (28 January) outlined plans to stage a number of high profile events that will give athletes greater opportunities to compete against the world’s best whilst also developing a framework of excellence in competition management.
In addition to recent announcements confirming the host cities of the next three World Championships through to 2017 and London’s staging of the first IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup this April, IPC Athletics plans to stage six Grand Prix events this spring and summer.
The events will start in March with a three day meeting in Dubai, UAE before heading to Beijing, China; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Grosseto Italy; Arizona, USA and Berlin, Germany.
The aim of the Grand Prix are to provide high level international competition, while supporting local organising committees and providing pillars of excellence to support development in areas such as classification, education, research and anti-doping.
Ed Warner, Chair of the IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee, said: “This announcement is a direct legacy of London 2012 where the sport’s profile was raised to astronomical levels. Over 1.1 million tickets were sold for the Olympic Stadium whilst many global broadcasters pulled in record audiences for track and field events.
“To build on this success IPC Athletics is keen to create more high profile competition opportunities over the coming years.
“We now have World Championships in place for 2013, 2015 and 2017 and the first IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup taking place this April to coincide with the Virgin London Marathon.
“This year’s Grand Prix events are very much a trial and are designed to improve standards off the track first and then provide more competition opportunities for leading athletes later.
“Should the trial be successful then we will look at how we can expand these events in 2014 and beyond.”
IPC Athletics’ announcement for a more comprehensive and competitive international calendar has been welcomed by a number of the world’s leading athletes.
Hannah Cockcroft, Great Britain’s 100m and 200m Paralympic and World Champion, said: "The announcement that athletes are going to be getting more world-class events in the coming years is a very welcome one!
“I think the fear after London 2012 for the athletes was that there was going to be a limited amount of motivation over the next four years. However, the Grand Prix events and the World Championships will give us plenty of chances to become the best the world and keep the public interested in our training and achievements allowing us to retain an elite status."
USA's Tatyana McFadden, a three-time gold medallist at London 2012, said: "The prospect of driving more athletes into high level competitions - raising both the depth and quality of these competitions - and formalising a schedule around our major events is exciting and needed for Paralympic sport."
Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira, the Brazilian athlete who created the biggest shock of London 2012 by beating Oscar Pistorius over 200m, said: "The year of 2012 was unique because of the Paralympics Games. Having a calendar of international competitions is very important, as people love to watch, and they want to follow. Athletes are more motivated and the Paralympic sport does not stop growing. Now I'm back on training and I'm working strong. We must be prepared. I'm very excited for this year”.
World and regional Championships
After announcing earlier this month that Doha, Qatar will stage the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, IPC Athletics now has hosts in place for the next three World Championships through to 2017.
This July, Lyon, France will host over 1,300 athletes from 90 countries for the 2013 event, whilst London’s Olympic Stadium has been confirmed for July 2017, a month before the same venue plays host to the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships.
In addition IPC Athletics also confirmed today that two cities have already submitted bids to stage the 2014 European Championship following the success of last June’s event in the Netherlands which attracted 500 athletes from 40 countries.
Ed Warner added: “In addition to the Grand Prix events, the success of London 2012 has enabled us to confirm all our World Championships between now and 2017. Regional competitions are also falling into place too.
“In 2014 we will have the Asian Para Games in Korea as well as a European Championships. In 2015 we have the World Championships in Doha, the Parapan American Games will take place in Canada, whilst Congo stages the All African Games.
“Athletes now have a clear pathway of major international and regional events between now and Rio 2016 and beyond. These are great developments for the sport and we expect to make further announcements during the year.”
Full details of the IPC Athletics Grand Prix events can be found at: http://www.paralympic.org/Athletics/Events/GrandPrix
IPC Athletics Event Calendar
25-27 March 5th FAZAA International Athletics Competition Grand Prix Dubai, UAE
21 April Virgin London Marathon Marathon World Cup London, UK
22-25 April Chinese Open Grand Prix Beijing, China
25-27 April 2013 Loterias Caixa Brazilian Athletics Open Championships Grand Prix Sao Paulo, Brazil
10-12 May Campionati Italiani Assoluti Grand Prix Grosetto, Italy
18 May Desert Challenge Games Grand Prix Mesa, Arizona, USA
14-16 June German Open Grand Prix Berlin, Germany
19-28 July 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships World Championships Lyon, France
June-July 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships Regional Games
23 July – 4 August Commonwealth Games Regional Games Glasgow, Scotland
October 2014 Asian Para Games Regional Games Incheon, Korea
March 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships World Championships Doha, Qatar
7-14 Aug 2015 Parapan American Games Regional Games Toronto, Canada
8-19 Sep Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Paralympic Games Rio, Brazil
July 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships World Championships London, Great Britain