Athletics: Day seven preview

Fifteen-year-old Isis Holt is going for gold in the women’s 100m T35 final – along with four other teenagers. 14 Sep 2016 By IPC

Fourteen medals will be decided on Wednesday (14 September), the seventh day of track and field action at Rio’s Olympic Stadium, as talented teenagers take centre stage.

The women’s 100m T35 final includes five teenagers all bidding for their first Paralympic title.

At 15-years-old, Australia’s Isis Holt is the youngest in the field – but youth certainly hasn’t stopped her so far. Holt is the reigning world champion and world record holder, and starts as the fastest this year.

Great Britain’s Maria Lyle is only 16-years-old; she finished second behind Holt in both the 100m and 200m T35 at last year’s World Championships, and won two individual titles at the European Championships in June.

Then there is China’s Xia Zhou, 17, second fastest in the world this year in the 100m T35, as well as Australia’s 18-year-old world bronze medallist Brianna Coop and 19-year-old Czech Anna Luxova.

Top teens will also be hoping to upset the formbook in the women’s 400m T34. Hannah Cockroft is only 24 years old, but the double Paralympic champion from London 2012 is by no means the youngest in the field.

Her British teammate Kare Adenegan is only 15 years old; she got the better of Cockroft over one lap last September, the first time in seven years that Cockroft had suffered defeat.

The USA’s Alexa Halko is just 16 years old. She won silver behind Cockroft at last year’s World Championships. Of course, it is not just the younger athletes that Cockroft will have to watch out for – Australia’s 34-year-old Rosemary Little is the second fastest in the world this year.

The men’s 800m T34 features a mix of youth and experience, but it is surely Walid Ktila who starts as favourite. The 31-year-old won four world titles at Doha 2015; he holds the 800m world record, and has already won the 100m T34 title here in Rio. Australia’s former world record holder Rheed McCracken, 19, is amongst those hoping to top the podium this time.

Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox has already won one medal on the athletics track – she won bronze in the 100m T38 on Friday (9 September). She has also won gold in track cycling.

The 25-year-old returns to the Olympic Stadium for the 400m T38, where she takes on the likes of home favourite Veronica Hipolito, silver medallist in the 100m, as well as Australia’s world ranked No. 3 Torita Isaac.

Out in the field the USA’s Rachael Morrison throws in the women’s discus F52. The reigning world champion, who competes in the F51 class, is back up against her British rival Jo Butterfield, winner of the club throw F51 on Sunday (11 September).

Morrison has only been competing for two years, but she has already won the world and Parapan Am titles. As the current world record holder and world No. 1, she could be tough to beat.

Croatia’s Branimir Budetic has already won Paralympic silver and bronze medals at previous Games. He just needs gold to complete his collection, and that could well happen on Wednesday when the 26-year-old lines up in the javelin F13.

Budetic, who carried the Croatian flag at the Opening Ceremony nearly one week ago, finished second at Beijing 2008 and third at London 2012 – but he topped the podium at last year’s World Championships with a world record throw of 65.72m, and added another two centimetres on to that mark at June’s European Championships.

China’s Pengkai Zhu and Iran’s Sajad Nikparast won gold and silver respectively four years ago – they could well upset Budetic’s plans; watch out too for Uzbekistan’s Alexsandr Svechnikov and Spain’s Hector Cabrera.