European champions Martina Caironi, Oney Tapia and Giuseppe Campoccio are among the host nation’s stars taking part in the Ancona 2019 World Para Athletics Winter Challenge in Italy on 23 and 24 March.
Multiple world and Paralympic gold medallist Caironi lines up in the 60m as well as the long jump in Ancona as indoor track events join the schedule for the first time.
The 29-year-old, who competes in the T63 class for single above-knee amputees, kicks off her season in Ancona with one eye on the World Championships in eight months’ time.
“I’m looking forward to getting my season underway,” said Caironi. “The focus is of course the World Championships in November and I’m looking forward to seeing how all my hard training so far has paid off.”
Tapia, a double European gold medallist in Berlin last year and the current discus F11 world record holder, takes on his two favoured events – the shot put and discus.
Campoccio meanwhile competes in all three of the throws events available to his class (F33) – the javelin, shot put and discus. The 52-year-old was one of the stand-out competitors at last year’s inaugural event.
Reigning world long jump T11 champion Arjola Dedaj returns to competition in Ancona after the birth of her son last year, while her partner Emmanuele Di Marino (T44) races over 60m.
Other sprinters to watch out for include world and European silver medallist and army corporal Monica Contrafatto (T63), who lost her right leg while serving for the Italian army in 2012, and former world champion Oxana Corso (T35).
Italy’s top teenagers Riccardo Bagaini (T47), Marco Pentagoni (T63) and Marco Cicchetti (T44) are also in action.
The trio impressed at the 2018 European Championships – Bagaini, 18, won 200m T47 bronze as well as two relay medals; 19-year-old Pentagoni clinched long jump T63 bronze and Cicchetti finished a highly credible fourth in the long jump T64 on his international debut.
From further afield, Croatian Vladimir Gaspar, European javelin F41 bronze medallist, and his teammates Velimir Sandor and Ivan Katanusic could impress.
Sandor won discus F52 bronze at the last two World Championships while Katanusic won his fifth European medal last August – discus F64 silver –finishing the year ranked second in the world behind USA’s Jeremy Campbell. The 27-year-old Croatian has already thrown 57.15m in the United Arab Emirates this year.
Results from the two days of competition at Ancona 2019 can be found online.