China’s London 2017 champions will be out in force at this week’s Beijing Grand Prix, which starts on Friday 11 May.
More than 20 gold medallists from last year’s World Championships will compete at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix which takes place at the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities complex.
After finishing top of the medals tables in London – China won 65 medals overall, 30 of which were gold – and with the 2018 Asian Para Games later this year, there are sure to be some big performances.
Around 250 Para athletes from 17 countries will line up in the Chinese capital and big-name stars from around the world are also in attendance – including the USA’s Richard Browne, Greek thrower Manolis Stefanoudakis and Uzbekistan’s young talent Aleksandr Svechnikov.
Here is a taste of what to look out for.
Nineteen of China’s London 2017 gold medallists triumphed out in the field and many will compete in Beijing this week, including Yanzhang Wang (discus F34), Zhanbiao Hou (discus F46), Pengxiang Sun (javelin F41) and Guangxu Shang (long jump T37) in the men’s events and Na Mi (discus F38), Lijuan Zou (shot/javelin F34) and Liwan Yang (shot/javelin F54) in the women’s events.
Three of Uzbekistan’s world medallists are also in action. Aleksandr Svechnikov, who turns 20 later this month, won javelin F13 gold in London, while Nozimakhon Kayumova won silver in the women’s equivalent behind China’s F12 thrower Yuping Zhao. The latter pair go head-to-head once again, while Zhao, who takes on all three throws this week, also faces Uzbekistan’s discus and shot put F12 silver medallist Safiya Burkhanova.
Greek world and Paralympic champion Manolis Stefanoudakis will provide stiff opposition in the men’s javelin and shot put events. The 35-year-old, who won javelin F54 World Championship gold, faces a field including UAE thrower Abdulla Masbahi, who finished sixth in London.
Three javelin F46 finalists from last year’s World Championships line up in Beijing; Thailand’s world bronze medallist Surang Khamsuk finished ahead of the UAE’s Mariam Almatrooshi and Japan’s Yukiko Kato in London. Who will come out on top this time?
Another great rivalry sees Chinese duo Hou Zhanbiao and Wei Enlong take on the discus and shot put. The pair won discus F46 gold and silver respectively at London 2017 – but the roles were reversed in the shot put, with Wei winning gold and Hou claiming bronze.
The USA’s former 100m T44 world champion Richard Browne makes his debut in Beijing in his first major international meeting since injury ruled him out of last year’s World Championships.
Browne, who now competes in the T64 class for single below-knee amputees who race with a blade, has cited his desire to return to championship racing and the 26-year-old is hoping this weekend’s meeting will help get him back on track.
Watch out too for China’s Yifei Yang in the men’s 100m T36 and Zetan Fan in the men’s 200m T11. Both saw off the Rio 2016 Paralympic champions in their respective events to win their first world titles last year.
In the women’s sprints, 100m and 200m T11 world champion Guohua Zhou and 400m T11 world champion Cuiqing Liu go head-to-head while the host nation’s formidable wheelchair racer Hongzhuan Zhou (T53) competes in the 100m, 200m and 400m, as does T54 racer and Paralympic marathon champion Lihong Zou.
Yang Liu picked up two silver medals in one of the most competitive classes, the men’s T54, at London 2017. The 28-year-old won 800m silver behind Swiss star Marcel Hug last July – he also won 100m silver, and could well be one to watch out for this season. Liu takes on the 100m, 400m and 800m in Beijing.
In the women’s events, Paralympic champion Jin Zheng races over 1,500m. Zheng, who competes in the T11 class for visually impaired Para athletes, broke the world record when she won gold at Rio 2016 although she had to settle for a bronze medal last year. The 26-year-old will no doubt be aiming for the top of the podium this time.
The Beijing Grand Prix takes place from 11-13 May and live results can be found here.