Bydgoszcz hosted five days and ten sessions of intense action during the 2021 European Championships which ended on Saturday (5 June).
It was the biggest Para sport competition before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and with so many fantastic performances it is not an easy task to pick the best of Bydgoszcz.
But here are some the European Championships top moments:
Markus makes more history
How far can Markus Rehm go? There was no doubt the German blade jumper was in a league of his own in the men’s long jump T64 but his world record from the previous European Championships in Berlin was still standing three years later.
Rehm’s goal was the 8.50-metre-mark but he went far beyond that improving in 14 centimetres his own record and reaching 8.62m on the opening day in Bydgoszcz. Next stop, Tokyo 2020 in August. But the question remains. How far can he jump?
Haggo and the RaceRunners
The European Championships are special for RaceRunning as the class made its debut in major Para athletics competitions at Berlin 2018.
Dubai 2019 world champion Kayleigh Haggo was a silver medallist in the first Euros but in Bydgoszcz she took the missing gold winning the 100m RR3 on day four with a new personal best (18.11).
Her celebration together with an emotional bronze medallist Zofia Kalucka of Poland was also one of the highlights of Bydgoszcz. There was more British RaceRunning gold with Rafi Solaiman in the men’s 100m RR3.
Newcomers take central stage
If see them shining Tokyo make sure you tell everyone you saw them first at Bydgoszcz 2021. Spain’s Adiaratou Iglesias completely dominated the T13 sprint races taking gold in the women’s 100m and 400m dethroning Paralympic champion Leilia Adzhametova of Ukraine.
Sixteen-year-old Menje Merle travelled back to Germany with four medals in the luggage including two gold in the women’s 400m and 5000m T54. She also took silver in the 100m and 800m.
Next months will be busy for the German who after Tokyo 2020 will be trying to qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics in Para Nordic skiing.
Four out of the nine world records in Poland came in throw events. The first right in the opening event at the Euros with Spain’s Kim Lopez in the men’s shot put F12 (17.02m).
The men’s club throw F51 continues to be Zeljko Dimitrijevic’s territory. The Serbian multi-champion added another European gold to his collection on day two with a new world record ahead of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (34.71m).
Jong’s and Ekler’s unforgettable week
Fleur Jong and Luca Ekler will never forget the first week of June 2021 in Poland. The Dutch athlete not only took her first major international titles as she set new world records in the two events she competed in.
First, Jong topped the podium in the women’s 100m clocking 12.64 on day three. Then, on day four, she smashed her own record twice in the long jump T64 to take gold with 6.06m.
Ekler arrived in Bydgoszcz as the women’s long jump T38 world champion in search of her first European gold. She did so equalling her own world record (5.51m). In the final day at the Euros, she smashed the women’s 400m T38 world record too (1:00.27).
Poland in pole position
Bydgoszcz 2021 will be remembered by great performances but also as the first major Para athletics championships to take place after the COVID-19 pandemic. Poland delivered both on and off the track and the field.
Competition took place in a closed venue with a series of protocols in place to give athletes everything they needed to be at their best.
Polish athletes took 49 athletes at the 2021 Euros, with 15 golds. Joanna Mazur was the most successful athlete in the home team with two victories in the women’s 400m and 1500m T11.
Vdonin leads Russia
The Russian team finished first in the medal standings with 74 podiums (31 gold, 25 silver and 18 bronze medals).
Andrei Vdonin was responsible for 10 per cent of those gold medals with three wins out of three races in three consecutive days in the men’s T37 class.
The 27-year-old first triumphed in the 100m on day two, followed by victories in the 400m with a season-best and the 200m with a championships record.