Athletics season kicks off in DubaiFirst Grand Prix of the year set to host 400 athletes 13 Mar 2018
The Dubai Grand Prix has established itself as the traditional curtain raiser to the 2018 World Para Athletics Grand Prix season and this year is no different, with the action set to get underway on Tuesday (13 March) in the United Arab Emirates.
Since 2014, more than 25 world records have been set at the Dubai Grand Prix - and with more than 40 medallists from last year’s World Championships amongst the 400 Para athletes set to compete, there will be plenty to watch out for.
Here’s a look at who could impress over the next four days.
Kuwaiti Ahmad Almutairi broke the 200m T33 world record in Dubai last year – he has also broken the 100m T33 world record eight times in the last seven years. All eyes will be on what the 23-year-old Paralympic and world champion can achieve this week.
Watch out too for Namibia’s 200m T11 Paralympic champion Ananias Shikongo, Malaysia’s 100m T36 Paralympic champion Mohamad Mohamad Puzi and Algeria’s T37 sprinter Sofiane Hamdi – a world silver and bronze medallist at London 2017.
Then there’s Tunisia’s Walid Ktila, who dominated all the of the men’s T34 track events at London 2017. He remains the man to beat in his class.
In the women’s sprints, Great Britain’s Paralympic and world champion Georgie Hermitage will line up as favourite – she takes on the 100m and 200m T37. Fellow Brits Sophie Hahn (T38) and Sophie Kamlish (T64), gold medallists at London 2017, also compete in Dubai.
German duo Nicole Nicoleitzik and Lindy Ave will be out to make a strong start to their season with the prospect of a home European Championships in August – Ave won silver and bronze in the T38 sprints at London 2017. The pair also take on the long jump.
Swiss star Marcel Hug has become a regular on the Dubai Grand Prix start list in recent years, and the 32-year-old returns once again, nine days after winning the Vitality Big Half marathon in London, Great Britain.
Twelve months ago Hug dominated the men’s T54 distance events on the Dubai Club for the Disabled track, winning the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m – the same three events he went on to win at the London 2017 World Championships. Germany’s Alhassane Balde, Tunisia’s Yassine Gharbi, Canada’s Josh Cassidy and Japanese trio Tomoki Suzuki, Kota Hokinoue and Sho Watanabe are amongst those out to try and get the better of the Swiss Silver Bullet.
Algeria’s world 800m T13 champion Fouad Baka races over two laps as well as the 1,500m; Tunisia’s 1,500m T38 Paralympic champion Abbes Saidi also takes on the middle-distance double and Great Britain’s former 800m T36 world champion Paul Blake also lines up.
Twelve months ago, Algerian Para athletes were in superb form – Asmahane Boudjadar (javelin F33), Safia Djelal (javelin F57), Nadia Medjmedj (discus F56) and Mounia Gasmi (discus F32) all set new world records and all are back in action this week.
The women’s shot put competitions promise plenty of top class action as London 2017 champions Boudjadar (F33) and Nassima Saifi (F57) from Algeria; Tunisian trio Maroua Ibrahmi (F32), Rima Abdelli (F40) and Raoua Tlili (F41) and Latvia’s Diana Dadzite (F55) line up. Tlili, Dadzite and Saifi also won discus gold in London and throw in that event too.
It’s a similar story in the men’s shot put events – Malaysia’s Ziyad Zolkefli (F20), Algeria’s Lahouri Bahlaz (F32), his teammate Kamel Kardjena (F33), Germany’s Sebastian Dietz (F36) and Iraq’s Garrah Tniaish (F40) start in Dubai.
Other London 2017 champions in action over the four days of competition include Malaysia’s Abdul Latif Romly (long jump T20), Latvia’s Dmitrijs Silvos (javelin F37), India’s Sundar Singh Gurjar (javelin F46) and Greece’s Manolis Stefanoudakis (javelin F54).
Check out the World Para Athletics website for daily reviews of all the action.