Athletics: Day four preview

There are plenty of exciting match-ups on the cards at the Olympic Stadium, including a showdown sure to excite the locals in the crowd. 11 Sep 2016
Prawat Wahoram of Thailand and Marcel Hug of Switzerland lead the pack in heat one of the men's 5000m meter T54 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Prawat Wahoram of Thailand and Marcel Hug of Switzerland lead the pack in heat one of the men's 5000m meter T54 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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The men’s 5,000m T54 is the first track final taking place on Sunday (11 September), the fourth day of Para athletics competition at Rio 2016.

And a thrilling race is on the cards as Swiss star Marcel Hug chases his first Paralympic title alongside the likes of Thai world champion Rawat Tana.

Hug, who won silver behind Tana at last year’s World Championships, is the fastest in the world this year. But in a field packed with talent he won’t be taking anything for granted.

Australia’s Kurt Fearnley has bags of experience – and accolades. The 35-year-old has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning 5,000m T54 gold at Athens 2004 and silver at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. He sits third in the rankings behind Hug and Tana.

Next up on the track is the final of the men’s 100m T47 – an event sure to grab the attention of the local Brazilian crowd.

Petrucio Ferreira smashed the 100m T47 world record in Saturday’s heats – a mark that had stood since 1992. The 19-year-old only took up Para athletics two years ago, but he quickly rose to the top, winning double gold at last year’s Parapan Am Games.

Ferreira’s teammate Yohansson Nascimento, the 200m T46 gold medallist at London 2012, will be hoping his experience pays dividends, while Poland’s Michal Derus is also a serious contender, having won the world title in 2013 and 2015.

The women’s 100m T13 final also features a young sprinter in record breaking form. Ukrainian Leilia Adzhametova knocked 0.03 seconds off South African Ilse Hayes’ world record in Saturday’s heats. The pair battle it out for gold on Sunday morning.

The men’s 100m T11 final includes Brazil’s Felipe Gomes – champion over 200m at London 2012. He lines up alongside the likes of world champion and world record holder David Brown.

Ireland’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Michael McKillop takes to the track in the men’s 1,500m T37 final ¬– an event he won at Beijing 2008 in addition to victories over 800m at both Beijing and London 2012.

The Irishman has enjoyed an injury-free build up to these Paralympic Games – unlike last year’s World Championships and the European Championships in 2014, where injury blighted most of his season.

The 26-year-old still went on to win gold at both events, so it will be fascinating to see what he can achieve with a full season’s training under his belt.

Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic and world champion Richard Whitehead will undoubtedly start as favourite in the men’s 200m T42 final after powering through to qualify fastest in Saturday’s heats, but watch out too for 14-year-old South African Ntando Mahlangu, second in the world rankings behind Whitehead.

British hopes will also rest with reigning world champion Jo Butterfield in the women’s club throw F51. The 37-year-old has enjoyed a successful year to date – she threw a world record 22.75m to take European gold in June.

One Para athlete hoping to upset Butterfield’s plan is US thrower Rachael Morrison. The 29-year-old American, who, like Butterfield, only took up Para athletics in 2014, is the former world record holder and she will also have her sights set on gold.

The men’s javelin F41 also promises to provide plenty to excitement as all three medallists from the 2015 World Championships start.

China’s Pengxiang Sun won global gold last October with a world record throw of 43.67m; Iraq’s Kovan Abdulraheem won silver and Great Britain’s Kyron Duke took the bronze.

The top two positions in the world this year are held by another Iraqi, Wildan Nukhailawi – bronze medallist in the javelin F40 at London 2012 – and Germany’s European silver medallist Mathias Mester. Both have thrown over the 41m mark this year, so it all adds up to a nail-biting final.