Athletes hit form ahead of Rio 2016

A number of world and European records fell at the weekend, as athletes start to peak ahead of next month’s Paralympic Games. 22 Aug 2016
Heinrich Popow of Germany

Germany's Heinrich Popow is the world record holder in the men's long jump T42 heading in to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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Two world records* fell this weekend (20 and 21 August) as Para athletes around the world continue to finalise their preparations for September’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which start on Wednesday 7 September.

Germany’s Heinrich Popow extended his world record mark in the men’s long jump T42 while Great Britain’s Hannah Cockroft clocked a new best in the women’s 800m T34.

Popow, who won 100m T42 Paralympic gold and finished fourth in the long jump T42/44 at London 2012, leapt 6.77m in Leverkusen, Germany – adding five centimetres on to the mark he set in early July.

The men’s long jump T42 world record has already fallen four times this year – Japan’s reigning world champion Atsushi Yamamoto leapt 6.56m in May, then Denmark’s Paralympic bronze medallist Daniel Wagner added another 11 centimetres as he jumped 6.67m at the test event for the Rio Paralympic Games before leaping 6.70m to secure the European title in Grosseto, Italy, in June.

Popow threw his hat in to the ring as he soared to the top of the world rankings with his jump of 6.72m last month, and the 33-year-old, who missed last year’s World Championships through injury, looks to be in great form at just the right time.

Multiple Paralympic and world champion Cockroft meanwhile raced at the Godiva Classic meeting in Coventry, Great Britain, and clocked a highly impressive 1:56.89 in the 800m T34 on Sunday – the first in her class to go under the two minute mark.

Cockroft’s time puts her back at the top of the world rankings after her US rival Alexa Halko set what was then a world record of 2:01.83 at the 2016 US Paralympic Team Trials in June.

Popow and Cockroft were not the only Para athletes excelling over the weekend – also in Leverkusen, double European champion Irmgard Bensusan broke the 100m T44 European record with 13.02; European silver medallist Felix Streng clocked 10.89 in the 100m T44 and broke his own 200m T44 European record with 21.93; and world champion David Behre clocked a new 200m T43 European record of 21.79.

Jörg Frischmann, Manager of Disability Sport at TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, said: "I’m very happy with the results, they show that athletes are in very good shape ahead of Rio. Let the Paralympics begin.”

*world record marks are pending ratification by the IPC