The city of Manchester, Great Britain, hosted four major sporting competitions this past weekend, from 7 to 11 May, encompassing the 2008 Paralympic World Cup. The competition delivered an impressive set of winners that showed a strong readiness for the Paralympic Games in September.
The Regional Arena saw an exciting four-day run of Wheelchair Basketball teams, with the US men’s team and Dutch women’s team winning gold medals. Although beginning the series of games with a defeat by Great Britain, the US. team quickly made up for the loss with an onslaught of victories the other three days against Germany and Sweden. The final saw a rematch against Great Britain, ending however in the opposite result, 60:58, giving the US the gold. The women’s team from the Netherlands stayed undefeated during the four days of competition. Playing against China, Brazil and Great Britain, their most narrowly won victory was game one against China, 51:42.
In the Women’s Track Cycling event, China, Germany and Great Britain brought home the gold. Aileen McGlynn (GBR) impressed audiences with two different wins in 3km Pursuit and Tandem Kilo. The Men’s Track Cycling also saw the gold medal twice won by Great Britain’s Anthony Kappes in Tandem Sprint and Tandem Kilo. Other gold winners included Darren Kenny (GBR), Jody Cundy (GBR), Jiri Jezek (CZE) and Ralf Arnold (GER).
The swimming competition at the Aquatics Centre was a two day event, which saw a concentration on Natalie Du Toit from South Africa. She assumed her reputation by winning the 100m freestyle competition. British swimmers had much success in winning in numerous events.
In the Athletics event on the final day, Jason Smyth from Ireland broke his own world record in the 100m (T13) with a time of 10.85 seconds. Smyth looks forward to the competition in Beijing. “I will be in my peak in Beijing so I know I can go quicker,” he said. Jessica Galli (USA) impressed the Regional Arena in four competitions, winning at least one of each medal.
The five-day event had over 400 competitors from 45 different countries competing. The city of Manchester and record crowds were able to see a glimpse of what the Paralympic Games will be like this coming September in Beijing.
The President of IPC, Sir Philip Craven, lauded the success of the Paralympic World Cup: “It is fantastic to be in Manchester and enjoy the world class action on show. This week has been a real taster of Beijing and it shows that alongside all the wonderful preparations going on in China, the athletes themselves will be more than ready in four months time”.