“I just thought ‘fly, fly, fly’ and it worked"
The World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Bydgoszcz, Poland, wrapped up on Sunday and featured a little bit of everything – experienced athletes fine-tuning their game ahead of November’s World Championships; new faces expected to make strong Paralympic debuts at Tokyo 2020; and plenty of world records.
Over three days, the host country saw their very own light up the competition, led by Lucyna Kornobys. The F33 discus specialist broke the world record (19.31m) in her first event on Friday, and then went on to surprise herself – and the crowd – by winning the javelin and setting another world record (16.46m) Saturday night.
“I expected to do this with the discus, but I absolutely didn’t expect anything with the javelin,” said Kornobys. “I was tired and a bit loose today, so I didn’t think too much. I just let it happen.”
There was plenty more for the home crowd to cheer about, including Lukasz Mamczarz winning the men’s high jump (1.74m).
“I hope to get a medal at the Dubai World Championships, but my main aim is to go and beat my personal best,” Mamczarz said. “I think I can do that. During training I was getting close, so I think in a short time it will be possible.”
Barrio betters herself
Sara Andres Barrio also put down a marker going into the World Championships in Dubai, UAE. The Spanish T62 athlete’s most notable previous results were bronze medals in the 200m and 400m at the 2017 Worlds.
But Barrio has now switched to long jump – and vindicated the decision by breaking the world record twice in Bydgoszcz, soaring 4.09m to take the gold.
“I just thought ‘fly, fly, fly’ and it worked,” Barrio said. “I think a positive mind is the key to long jump.”
Twenty-year-old Hungarian Luca Ekler will be another name to look out for at Dubai 2019. The T38 long jumper won gold at the European Championships last year, and added the Grand Prix victory in style with a leap of 5.50m – just 0.1m behind her own world record.
Elsewhere, a jet-lagged Jarryd Wallace won the 200m in a time of 22.61. The reigning 200m T44 world champion flew in from home late Thursday night, and overcame his fatigue to beat a decent field.
“I’m exhausted, I got in at midnight, but that’s the nature of the sport, battling the travel,” the US athlete said. “All things considered, I’m happy. I feel really good with my races, I executed my plan.
“Now I’ve got a really great cycle planned going into the World Championships. Hopefully we can defend the 200m and bring home another medal in the 100m.”
Hopes for Dubai 2019
Saudi Arabia had a strong showing on the track, with Ali Alnakhli winning T37, Nour Alsana taking gold in the T44-47 and Fahad Alganaidl victorious in the T34, 52, 53.
“I hope that in the future at the World Championships I can break the world record, and set a new world best time at Tokyo,” said Alnakhli.
Luxembourg’s Tom Habscheid won men’s F63/F64 shot put, but felt he can still improve before the biggest competition this year.
“I was not good enough, I’m not quick enough, and I need to train more with the feet – more technical drills,” he said. “But I will work hard on that ahead of the World Championships.”
The World Para Athletics Grand Prix series will conclude from 28-30 August in Paris, France; before the 2019 World Championships from 7-15 November.