2016 IPC Athletics European Championships declared open

The six-day event in Italy's Tuscan city got underway with a colourful Opening Ceremony. 10 Jun 2016
Music band of uniformed men in front of a TV board

The Opening Ceremony of the 2016 IPC Athletics European Championships at Piazza Dante, in the centre of Grosseto.


“We have a mission to accomplish, we know very well, not only to increase the number of medals and to fly the Italian flag as much as possible, but to give a positive message.”

The fifth IPC Athletics European Championships were officially opened on Friday 10 June in Grosseto, Italy, as the renowned musical band of the national military police – the Carabinieri – performed to the assembled crowds.

Athletes representing each of the 36 participating countries paraded around Piazza Dante, in the heart of the historical Tuscan city, past guests and dignitaries including Emilio Bonifazi, the Mayor of Grosseto and Gennaro Migliore, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice.

The President of the Italian Paralympic Committee, Luca Pancalli, welcomed the athletes and guests, and gave thanks to all those involved in the making of the Championships.

More than 600 Para athletes are set to compete over six days of competition – making Grosseto 2016 the biggest IPC Athletics European Championships to date.

Acknowledging the importance of the European Championships just three months away from the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mr Pancalli said:

“We have a mission to accomplish, we know very well, not only to increase the number of medals and to fly the Italian flag as much as possible, but to give a positive message.”

The President of the Italian Federation for Paralympic and Experimental Games (FISPES) and chairperson of the Local Organising Committee, Sandrino Porru, also gave his thanks, adding:

“These European Championships will see the greatest number of participants in Para athletics history, which only serves to confirm the great work done by this wonderful group and their skills of organisation.”

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, reflected on the European Championships in 2012, which took place three months before the London Paralympic Games.

“Athletes here in Grosseto, you should take great inspiration from the achievements of those athletes from four years ago,” said Sir Philip.

“Many went on to not only compete at London 2012 but win Paralympic medals in front of packed out crowds and millions of TV viewers.

“I think we will see a repeat again this year,” he added.

Mr Gennaro declared the Championships open before the ceremony concluded with the customary raising of the Paralympic flag and the athlete, coach and official oaths led by Italy’s 2012 European 200m T44 champion Riccardo Scendoni.

Here is a taste of what is to come at Grosseto 2016:

Men’s Events:

100m T34

Finland’s reigning European champion Henry Manni takes to the track along with Frenchman Sebastien Mobre and British duo Ben Rowlings and Isaac Towers. Manni won four titles two years ago and goes for the quadruple again this year.

100m T44

Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock is also out to defend the European title he won two years ago. The 23-year-old lines up against the likes of in-form German sprinter Felix Streng, who clocked 10.93 last month and sits second in the world rankings.

1,500m T54

Russia’s Aleksei Bychenok currently tops the world rankings, while Great Britain’s Paralympic champion David Weir recently became the first wheelchair racer to complete one mile in under three minutes when he raced the Westminster Mile in London. Watch out too for Germany’s Alhassane Balde and Frenchman Julien Casoli.

High Jump T42/44

If past performances are anything to go by, the competition between Poland’s Maciej Lepiato and Great Britain’s Jonathan Broom-Edwards should not disappoint. Two years ago both athletes improved on what was then the world record mark, with Lepiato going on to clear 2.17m to win gold. The 27-year-old added another centimetre on to his world record when he topped the podium at last year’s World Championships.

Long jump T44

One man who will be hard to beat in Grosseto is German long jumper Markus Rehm. The 27-year-old is the reigning Paralympic, world and European champion and also holds the world record – a distance of 8.40m - which would have won him gold at the London Olympics in 2012.

Shot put F42

Defending champion Aled Davies has already broken his own world record this year, throwing 16.13m in the USA. Germany’s Frank Tinnemeier and Croatia’s Mladen Tomic finished second and third respectively behind Davies at Swansea 2014 and will be out to upset the form book this week.

Women’s Events :

100m T35

Home favourite and double Paralympic silver medallist Oxana Corso will be hoping to get the better of Great Britain’s teenage talent Maria Lyle, who won double sprint gold ahead of the Italian at Swansea 2014.

100m T42

Reigning world champion Martina Caironi will also have the support of the local crowds behind her as she takes on the 100m and also the long jump against her great rival, Germany’s Vanessa Low. Both Para athletes were in record-breaking form last year; expectations will surely be high once again.

200m T36/38

The women’s T38 class is bursting with talent and two of the world’s best line up in Grosseto –Russia’s world champion Margarita Goncharova and Great Britain’s world silver medallist Sophie Hahn. Watch out too for Kadeena Cox – the Briton won 100m T37 gold at Doha 2015 and will compete in the T38 class, while Germany’s Claudia Nicoleitzik sits third in the 200m T36 world rankings.

400m T20

Poland’s Barbara Niewiedzial was unbeaten at Doha 2015, winning a hat trick of gold medals – she takes on a field including her compatriot Sabina Stenka, the current world ranked number one.

400m T44

Marie-Amelie Le Fur smashed the world record clocking 59.30 on her way to gold at Doha 2015, the first time the 60 second mark had been broken. The Frenchwoman set a new world record when she won this title two years ago; world and European silver medallist Irmgard Bensusan also starts alongside Italians Giuseppina Versace and Federica Maspero.

Club throw F32/51

Great Britain’s Jo Butterfield (F51) set a new European record when she won this event two years ago, then set a championship record to win the world title last year - she clearly has a taste for the big occasion. Having thrown a world lead 22.21m in April, her rivals – including fellow Briton Gemma Prescott (F32) and Czech Barbora Celanska - had best watch out.