The women’s T64 sprints promise plenty of excitement at the Berlin 2018 European Championships with both Irmgard Bensusan and Marlene van Gansewinkel in record-breaking form this year.
German Bensusan clocked a new 200m T44 world record of 26.53 on home soil in June, while on the same day - 550 kilometres away in Belgium - Dutch T64 Para athlete van Gansewinkel was also making a name for herself on the track.
Van Gansewinkel broke the 100m T64 world record with a time of 12.88 – the only Para athlete in either the T44 or T64 class to dip below the 13-second mark this year.
Now the pair will go head-to-head over both 100m and 200m at the Berlin 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships later this month.
Berlin 2018 will be Bensusan’s third European Championships. The 27-year-old, who was born in South Africa, made her senior international debut for Germany in Swansea (Wales) four years ago where she won a hat trick of silver medals.
Two years later at Grosseto 2016, the Leverkusen-based sprinter climbed to the top of the podium, winning both the 100m and 200m T44 as well as silver over one lap.
Then last year she won 200m T44 world silver as well as her first global title – the 400m T44. Since then Bensusan has continued to show just why she is one of the best in the world, topping the world rankings in both the 100m and 200m T44.
As well as breaking the 200m T44 world record, this season has seen Bensusan set a new 100m personal best of 13.01 – a feat she achieved at the Paris Grand Prix in June.
Success on the European stage has so far eluded van Gansewinkel – she finished out of the medals in all four of the events she took part in at Swansea 2014, and did not compete in Grosseto – but this year could mark a turning point for the 23-year-old.
Van Gansewinkel changed her coaching set up last October, co-founding the Team Para Atletiek club in Amsterdam alongside fellow athlete Fleur Jong and coach Guido Bonsen - and the move is clearly paying off.
At the Nottwil Grand Prix in May van Gansewinkel clocked 12.95 seconds, a mark she went on to lower further one week later. Add a convincing win over 200m at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in July and it’s easy to see why the Dutch athlete and Bensusan are two of the form athletes of the Championships.
Did you know…Bensusan was a South African junior national champion in able-bodied athletics before her accident