Four world records, a back-and-forth battle in the men’s long jump and a big upset completed the evening session of the athletics action on Wednesday (14 September) at the Olympic Stadium.
Although trialing in the final turn, Mohamed Alhammadi out-pushed Walid Ktila down the home stretch to upset the men’s reigning 800m T34 world champion.
The United Arab Emirates’ Alhammadi twice finished behind the Tunisian at the 2015 and 2013 World Championships. But that was not the case on Wednesday. Alhammadi stunned Ktila to secure the gold in 1:40.24.
“People said at the beginning that I probably won’t win,” Alhammadi said. “I came from behind and I won. They kept saying ‘Mohamed is not training, not doing this, not doing that,’ and I won the gold medal. But Walid was nice to me and congratulated me.”
Ktila – who retained his world record – clocked 1:40.31 for the silver; it was his first non-golden performance at a Paralympics and Worlds event. He is leaving Rio 2016 with two medals, including gold in the men’s 100m T34. After not reaching the podium at Doha 2015, 19-year-old Australian Rheed McCracken (1:41.25) captured the bronze.
“In the end Mohamed, who won the gold medal, is a friend and is from an Arab country so I’m happy for him as well,” Ktila said. “I played the race, wanted to get the gold, but I’m happy with silver as long as it was Mohamed that got it.”
There was no surprise in the women’s 400m T34 where Hannah Cockroft secured her second gold medal in record-breaking fashion. The 24-year-old Briton took the women’s 400m T34, lowering the world record she set last year to 58.78.
She beat her younger counterparts Alexa Halko, 16, of the USA, who took the silver in 1:00.79, and Great Britain’s 15-year-old bronze medallist Kare Adenegan (1:01.67).
“I knew I was pushing well, I knew I was in good shape and, you know what, the 400m has always secretly been my favourite event but we’ve never had it,” Cockroft said. “I hoped for a world record today, I knew I could go under the minute mark and I did and I’m well happy."
China’s Li Lu had the final kick to overtake South Africa’s Anrune Liebenberg for gold in the women’s 400m T47. The 21-year-old won in 58.09; Liebenberg (58.88) claimed back-to-back Paralympic silvers in the event. Japan’s Sae Tsuji (1:00.62) completed the podium.
Two more world records were set in the women’s field events.
The USA’s Rachael Morrison was golden in the women’s discus throw F52. She recorded a best 13.09, lowering the world standard that won her gold at Doha 2015. Her compatriot Cassie Mitchell (12.87) captured the silver medal for the first medal after two Paralympic appearances. Ukraine’s Zoia Ovsii (12.17) took Paralympic bronze.
“To set a world record at a Paralympic Games leaves me mostly speechless with a plastered smile across my face which will be there for quite a while,” Morrison said.
In the women’s shot put F34, China’s Lijuan Zou (8.75) set the world record in her first attempt to win her second gold at the Games. Poland’s Lucyna Kornobys (8.00), bronze medallist from Doha, grabbed the silver. New Zealand’s Jessica Hamill (7.54) won the bronze medal.
It was a back-and-forth battle for the lead in the men’s long jump T47. The USA’s World Championshipa silver medallist Roderick Townsend-Roberts leapt 7.41, bettering China’s Worlds bronze medallist Hao Wang (7.30) for the gold. France’s runner-up four years ago, Arnaud Assoumani (7.11), took the bronze.
After silver at the 2015 Worlds, Lithuania’s Mindaugas Bilius secured the gold in the men’s shot put F37 with a throw of 16.80. China’s Dong Xia (16.06) had the second-best throw. Uzbekistan’s Khusniddin Norbekov (15.17), bronze medallist from Doha 2015, completed the podium.
“I’m happy and surprised at the same time. I was kind of expecting that but it’s a competition and everyone is even,” Bilius said. “I wanted to win this for our country and then the people could see that people with disability can do exactly the same as people who don’t have injuries.”
China lowered a world record of their own when they claimed gold in 47.18 in the women’s 4x100m relay T11-13.
The team of Guohua Zhou, Yaqin Shen, Juntingxian Jia and Cuiqing Liu, and their guides Dengpu Jia, Wen Li, Yang Shi and Donglin Xu, respectively, were more than a second faster than their own previous world record.
Brazil (47.57) took the silver, comprised of Thalita Vitoria Simplicio, Alice Correa, Lorena Salvatini Spoladore and Terezinha Guilhermina; their respective guides were Felipe Veloso, Diogo Cardoso, Renato Ben Hur Oliveira, and Rafael Lazarini.
Colombia (51.93) secured the bronze, with the team of Marcela Gonzalez, Sonia Sirley Luna Rodriguez, Maritza Arango Buitrago, and Yesenia Maria Restrepo Munoz; joined by their respective guides Niver Rangel Palmera, Wilmar Cabrera Estremor, Jonathan Sanchez Gonzalez, and Juan Cortes Agudelo.