Ancona 2018: Stage set for Winter Challenge26.10.2018
Italian athletes head field in ground-breaking new event
World Para Athletics’ first dedicated throws competition, the Ancona 2018 Winter Challenge, kicks off on Saturday (27 October) with two days of javelin, discus, shot put and club throw events in the Italian coastal city.
Home hopes will rest with Paralympic and world champion Assunta Legnante (F11) who lines up in the women’s shot put F11/37/38/41/44 and her teammate, newly-crowned European champion Giuseppe Campoccio, who takes on the men’s shot put F33 as well as the discus F32/33 and javelin F33/34.
Campoccio competes in the shot put in the opening session on Saturday morning against a tough field including Paralympic champion Athanasi Konstantinidis and his Greek countrymen Lazaros Stefanidis and Angelos Tsitsipas.
The club throw events also take place on day one. In the men’s F51 class, Slovakia’s Paralympic bronze and European silver medallist - and current world number two - Marian Kureja is back up against the man who beat him to silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Czech Radim Beles.
Other major championship medallists set to compete include Canada’s Alister McQueen, who won javelin F44 bronze at the London 2017 Worlds to add to the Paralympic silver medal he claimed at the Rio Games and Greece’s two-time world shot put F33 bronze medallist Anthi Liagkou.
Portugal’s young star Miguel Monteiro, who competes in the F40 class for athletes of short stature, takes to the field on Sunday (28 October).
The 17-year-old only made his senior international debut at the Grosseto European Championships two years ago, where he finished sixth; he was Portugal’s youngest competitor at Rio 2016 three months later, where he finished a highly impressive fifth in a tough field headed by Iraqi Garrah Tnaiash.
In 2017 Monteiro claimed silver at his first World Championships, then added another silver at the Berlin European Championships this year; it will be exciting to follow the teenager’s progress in Ancona and beyond.
Bulgaria’s Daniela Todorova takes on three throws – the javelin, shot put and discus - in Ancona after a hugely successful European Championships two months ago where she won two silvers and a bronze behind Latvia’s top thrower Diana Dadzite.
Another of Bulgaria’s top Para athletes, reigning European shot put F57 champion Ivanka Koleva, also competes this weekend.
The former Paralympic and world champion is among a talented and experienced field in the women’s shot put F54/55/56/57, which also includes Beijing 2008 gold medallist Eva Kacanu from the Czech Republic, US number one Christy Gardner and home favourite Carmen Acunto, a veteran of the Italian squad with several national titles to her name.
Koleva, Gardner and Liagkou throw in the discus F33/56/57 too, while Kacanu and Acunto also compete in the javelin and discus throws.
Competing alongside the latter two in the discus F53/54/55 will be Todorova, Italian Maria Luisa Carnevale and Canadians Pamela LeJean, shot put F53 champion at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games, and 20-year-old former sledge hockey player Sarah Mickey.
Canadians are also out in force in the women’s discus F11/37/38/41/64 with 2015 Parapan Am Games gold medallists Renee Foessel and Jennifer Brown joined by 2017 javelin F11 world bronze medallist Ness Murby.