Berlin 2018: Leilia Adzhametova aims for Euro win

Paralympic champion the one to beat at next month’s Championships 31 Jul 2018 By IPC

“There is no limit on perfection, only time will tell. We should improve our skills and our technique and then everything is possible.”

Leilia Adzhametova already has Paralympic and world titles to her name – now she wants to complete the set with victory at the Berlin 2018 European Championships. The Ukrainian sprinter won 100m T13 gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, adding bronze in the 400m, then achieved a clean sweep of three world titles at London 2017 less than a year later.

But one thing missing from her trophy cabinet is a European title – and she hopes to put that right next month (20-26 August) when she lines up in the 100m, 200m and 400m T13 at the city’s Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark.

“The European Championships will be the next stage for me to become more powerful, more strong,” said Adzhametova, who is the current world number one in both the 100m and 200m T13.

“I just want to run faster, I always want to improve myself, to be better, and this is the chance to try out my skills.”

‘Like a big dream’

The vision impaired Para athlete burst on to the scene in 2016 when she beat South Africa’s reigning world champion Ilse Hayes at the Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland.

That victory marked the start of Adzhametova’s Para athletics career on the international stage - and two years later the self-effacing 24-year-old still can’t quite believe what she has achieved.

“All that happened to me starting from Nottwil - the Paralympic Games, a gold medal and a bronze medal, my victory against Ilse Hayes; this is all like a big dream for me,” explained Adzhametova, who turned to sport after the death of her Grandmother as a way to try and deal with her grief.

“But still I think I should improve myself and do more and work harder. Athletics and sport is like my other world and I don’t want to let anyone in this world – it’s just my piece of world.

“I just enjoy my life in sport and try to better here. I just want to show good results and dedicate them to my Grandma. She inspired me to be the best.”

‘No limit on perfection’

When it comes to the 100m, right now Adzhametova certainly is the best. As well as winning Paralympic and world titles, she set the 100m T13 world record of 11.79 at the Rio 2016 Games.

But the 200m T13 world record currently belongs to Cuban Omara Durand, while the 400m T13 world record has stood for more than 20 years – American Marla Runyan ran 54.46 seconds back in 1995.

“I know Omara Durand very well, she is an awesome athlete and her results are absolutely incredible, but I’m not ready to say if I can or can’t beat this result,” added Adzhametova.

“There is no limit on perfection, only time will tell. We should improve our skills and our technique and then everything is possible.”

As for the European Championships, Adzhametova lines up against the likes of home favourite Janne Sophie Engeleiter, Ireland’s Orla Comerford and Portugal’s Carolina Duarte in the shorter sprints, and French Paralympic champion Nantenin Keita over one lap.

She may be the one to beat, but it’s clear Adzhametova still has a lot of respect for her rivals.

“I’m feeling really proud and I’m really honoured to have this chance to compete against such strong athletes and to be there with them on the start line,” she said.