Berlin 2018: Barbara Niewiedzial vs. Arleta Meloch

Polish teammates will go head to head for European gold 17 Aug 2018
female Para athletes Arleta Meloch and Barbara Niewiedzial on the podium

Arleta Meloch (L) and Barbara Niewiedzial will go from teammates to rivals at Berlin 2018

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Forget a battle of the nations at the Berlin 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships – the women’s 800m T20 could well be all about one country.

When it comes to women’s T20 middle distances, Poland has two of the best in the business – and they will go head to head once again in Berlin next week.

Two-time Paralympic silver medallist Arleta Meloch smashed the 800m T20 world record at Grosseto 2016, knocking nearly four seconds off the previous mark set by her teammate Barbara Niewiedzial at the 2015 World Championships. It is a record that still stands today.

The pair did not race over 800m in Grosseto – Niewiedzial chose to focus on the 1,500m and 400m T20, duly winning both.

Meloch meanwhile raced in all three events, clinching bronze in the 1,500m alongside her victory over two laps.

Finely balanced

At 36-years-old, Niewiedzial is three years younger than her teammate – but she has more major gold medals to her name, having won 1,500m T20 gold at two Paralympic Games as well as the last three World Championships.

At last year’s World Championships Niewiedzial showed her class in the 1,500m T20 as she chased down USA’s early leader Kaitlin Bounds before sprinting clear with 200m to go. Meloch had to make do with fifth place in that race.

While the 1,500m may well be Niewiedzial’s favoured event – she is the reigning Paralympic, world and European champion over the distance - it makes the prospect of a Merloch-Niewiedzial encounter over 800m all the more intriguing.

Plus, there are inevitably a host of other talented athletes who could well cause an upset.

Other contenders

Hungary’s Bernadett Biacsi tops the current 800m T20 world rankings after winning the Rieti Grand Prix in Italy earlier this year in a time of 2:19.25. She was followed closely behind in that race by Ukraine’s Liudmyla Danylina; both athletes line up in Berlin next week.

Then there is Turkish teenager Muhsine Gezer, who has already made a name for herself both at home – with a park named in her honour in her hometown of Buraniye – and on the world stage.

She won 800m bronze at London 2017 and competed in the World Junior Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland two weeks later, winning 400m T20 gold.

With a field of this depth and quality, it’s likely that the women’s 800m T20 will provide one of the standout races when the action starts next week.

Every minute of the Berlin 2018 European Championships will be streamed live on the World Para Athletics website. Visit the Berlin 2018 website for live results, full schedule, highlights and latest news.