Durand hoping for successful comeback at Doha 2015

After missing Lyon 2013 due to the birth of her first child, the Cuban sprinter will seek three golds in Qatar. 05 Oct 2015
blindfolded runner with guide and another female runner crossing a finish line

Omara Durand (L) of Cuba and Terezinha Guilhermina (R) of Brazil compete in the Women's 100 meters qualifying at the Caixa Loterias 2015 Paralympics Athletics and Swimming Open Championships

ⒸGetty Images
By Hernan Goldzycher | for the IPC

“I have always competed because I love my sport, which used to give me enough strength. Nevertheless, since Erika’s birth, my daughter has become my new highest motivation. She is my biggest inspiration.”

Omara Durand was just 19-years-old when she stunned the world at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, winning the 200m T13 in world record time – as well as gold in the 400m T13.

One year later, she claimed her two most significant titles at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, this time clinching gold in the 100m and the 400m T13.

However, after the birth of her daughter Erika, she committed her life to taking care of her baby and took a three-year sabbatical from the track. Her comeback at this year’s Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games could not have been better.

Durand showed great form and completed an amazing clean sweep, winning three gold medals out of three events, and setting two new world records in the process – success that undoubtedly proved to the Cuban that she was back at her best.

“I took part in Toronto 2015 both to see if I could still compete at a high level after being far from the track for so long, and to prepare myself for the Doha 2015 World Championships, which are my biggest goal of the year,” she stated.

Durand clocked 11.65 seconds in the 100m T12 at the Parapan Am Games in August, taking 0.26 seconds off the previous world record set by China’s Guohua Zhou at London 2012.

That time also confirmed Durand’s status as the world’s fastest female para-athlete, a standing she underlined when she raced in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last month as part of the celebrations marking one year to go to the 2016 Paralympic Games. The event brought together the best sprinters from across different classes.

“It was a dream come true and a big happiness to be named as the fastest Paralympian in the world. Besides, it encouraged me to keep training hard in order to get to Doha 2015 and Rio 2016 in my best possible shape,” Durand said.

“The World Championships are getting closer and I cannot wait for them to start. I am doing everything I can to be in good condition. It is not easy after becoming a mother, of course. My family has helped me a lot during the whole process,” she added.

Miriam Ferrer, who works as coach to another successful Cuban sprinter, Paralympic and world champion Yunidis Castillo, has helped Durand both physically and mentally too. “She is not only a great trainer, but a beautiful person,” Durand said.

“I have always competed because I love my sport, which used to give me enough strength. Nevertheless, since Erika’s birth, my daughter has become my new highest motivation. She is my biggest inspiration.”

Durand will compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m T12 at this month’s IPC Athletics World Championships, which take place in Doha, Qatar, from 21-31 October. She is no longer competing in the T13 class because she lost some vision after giving birth. Even though she does not know her new rivals very well, she is aware of Paralympic champion Zhou’s potential. “She is going to be my main rival,” Durand said.

The Cuban sprinter admits she loves running the 200m, “especially the curve”, but dislikes the 400m, which she describes as a “very tiring event.” However, Durand is ready to compete in all three sprints and, with the Paralympic Games also on the horizon, she is already targeting further success.

“I cannot wait to go to Rio and compete at the Paralympic Games either, which I am sure are going to be spectacular. I love Brazil, its culture and people. It is going to be so thrilling to take part in my third Paralympic Games.”

First though, there are World Championship titles to win – and if Durand gets her way, she’ll be able to make her daughter very proud.

The IPC Athletics World Championships will take place in Doha, Qatar, from 21-31 October and will feature around 1,400 athletes from 100 countries.