2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships kick off in Dubai

The first ever IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships were officially opened on Sunday 6 March in Dubai, UAE, as fireworks lit up the night sky overlooking the picturesque Dubai marina. 06 Mar 2016
Stage with group of dancers

The 2016 Asia-Oceania Championships Opening Ceremony took place on 6 March 2016.

ⒸDubai 2016

Representatives from each of the 24 participating countries paraded their nation’s flags across the stage before a celebration of the region’s local culture and heritage took place, entertaining the audience with traditional song and dance.

His Excellency Thani Juma Berregad, the chair of the Local Organising Committee and of the Dubai Sports Club for the Disabled then welcomed guests and thanked the volunteers, media and sponsors for their involvement.

Underlining the potential for the championships to break new ground for disabled sports around the world, he said:

“For years, the United Arab Emirates and Dubai have earned a great reputation by successfully hosting multiple world class international sporting events, and they keep giving the world more memorable experiences, while leaving a lasting legacy internationally, because our homeland only moves forward, our leaders always motivate us to innovate and renew.”

His Excellency Mohammed Alhameli, Governing Board member of the IPC then spoke, giving his thanks to his Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Matkoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and the patron of the Championship.

Highlighted the importance of the event in driving forward para-athletics around the world, he said:

“After successfully staging Grand Prix meetings in Dubai for the last three years, I am delighted that this inaugural Championship brings together hundreds of athletes from right across the Asia-Oceania region.

“This event acts as the final piece of the jigsaw in terms of regional events, and I am delighted that we now have regular regional Championships in Africa, the Americas, Europe and now Asia and Oceania.”

With the championships officially open, the Paralympic flag raised, and the athletes, officials and coaches oaths made, light and fire shows continued to captivate the audience before colourful fireworks signalled the end to the ceremony.

More than 220 athletes will line up at the city’s Police Sports Club stadium over six days of competition.

Here are some of the key names to look out for:

Mohamed Hammadi - UAE - 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m T34

The home favourite takes on four events on home soil, less than five months after winning three silver medals and one bronze at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.

Hammadi equalled his own 100m T34 Asian record in Qatar last October, just 12 months after winning double sprint gold at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. The 30-year-old will undoubtedly be out to make his mark once again in Paralympic year – Kuwait’s T33 world record holder Ahmad Almutairi is amongst those hoping to upset the form book.

Atsushi Yamamoto – JAPAN - long jump T42/44, 100m T42

The reigning long jump T42 world champion has already enjoyed a winning start to 2016, having leapt an impressive 6.36m on his way to victory at IPC Athletics’ season-opening Grand Prix in Brisbane, Australia, last month.

The 33-year-old safely retained his world title in Qatar last year and will be tough competition for the rest of the field - which includes three other world finalists - in Dubai this week.

Mohamad Mohamad Puzi – MALAYSIA – 100m T36

Another gold medallist from last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships, Mohamad Puzi saw off a strong field in Qatar to take his first global title and top the rankings for the year, having also set a new Asian record of 12.01 in the heats.

Amit Kumar – INDIA – club throw F31/32/51, discus F51-53

Kumar (F51) is one of five finalists from last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships to line up in the club throw F31/32/51 in Dubai – but he was the one who reached the podium, winning silver with a new Asian record of 25.44m. In the discus he will have to get the better of Iran’s F53 thrower Alireza Mokhtari Hemami, the Asian Para Games champion.

Abdul Latif Romly – MALAYSIA – Men’s long jump T20

The 18-year-old only made his international debut less than two years ago, winning Asian Para Games gold in the process. He’s continued to take world class competition in his stride, rounding off 2015 with a world title courtesy of a championship and Asian record leap of 7.35m. How far can he go in Dubai?

Jin Zheng – CHINA – Women’s 1,500m T11/T20

The 24-year-old visually impaired para-athlete picked up her first world title last year to add to the gold she won at the 2014 Asian Para Games in world record time. She will have to watch out for the Japanese duo Makiko Toyoshima – 1,500m T20 Para Asian Games gold medallist - and Moeko Yamamoto (T20) in Dubai.

Sara Masoud – QATAR – Women’s shot put F32-34

Masoud won gold in the shot put and discus at the 2014 Asian Para Games; the 29-year-old followed that up with a notable fifth place finish at last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships after throwing a personal best 4.54m – just two centimetres shy of the F33 Asian record.

Liangmin Zhang – CHINA - Women’s discus and shot put F11/12

The reigning Paralympic and world discus champion has bags of international experience having competed at three Paralympic Games and four World Championships, securing no fewer than three Paralympic and six world medals along the way. Further success for the T11 thrower in Dubai is hard to dismiss.