“I had retired after the Games and I started working full-time but I didn't like it. I even tried a lot of things including bobsleigh. But I felt there were still a few things I haven't done in athletics."
Reigning world champions Evan O’Hanlon, Walid Ktila, Marcel Hug, Sophie Hahn and Madison de Rozario took full advantage of the chance to try out the track ahead of this year’s World Championships as they headed the winners on day two of the Dubai Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates.
O’Hanlon (11.56) made a successful return to the track on Monday with a straightforward win in the 100m T38, although windy conditions ruled out a fast time.
“It's feels great to be on the track here in Dubai,” said O’Hanlon, who originally decided to hang up his spikes after winning gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games but had a subsequent change of heart.
“I had retired after the Games and I started working full-time but I didn't like it. I even tried a lot of things including bobsleigh. But I felt there were still a few things I haven't done in athletics.
“My body feels good – it’s just that I feel more heavy and slow. I feel confident, but there will be a lot of work to do before I return here again for the World Championships; I need to work on my fitness and shed a few kilos.”
Another Australian, world and Paralympic bronze medallist Chad Perris (11.35), won the 100m T13, while fellow Canberra-based sprinter Scott Reardon (13.22) was the first of the T63 sprinters across the line in the men’s 100m T63/64, which was won by Japan’s T64 athlete Shunsuke Itani (12.12).
Paralympic silver medallist de Rozario (1:58.78), who won double gold on home soil at the Commonwealth Games, took the win in the women’s 800m T53.
“It is going to be really big year for me, it’s the strongest season-opener I’ve ever had so we’ll see how the rest of the year goes,” said the 25-year-old, who won the 1,500m T54 a day earlier.
“The World Championships will be back on this track in November so that’s going to be really exciting. I’ve never raced in Dubai before so it’s really cool to get out here.”
In the women’s sprints, Great Britain’s Maria Lyle (14.98) followed up her victory over 200m on Sunday (24 February) with a win in the 100m T35/36, while teammate Sophie Hahn remains the one to beat in the T38 class, winning the 100m T37/38 ahead of Germany’s Lindy Ave (13.98).
A day after losing out to his great rival Toni Piispanen in the 100m, Belgium’s Paralympic and world champion Peter Genyn (44.16) turned the tables on the Finn, topping the podium in the men’s 200m T51.
Malaysia’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Muhamad Ali Hanafiah (11.48) was the fastest in the 100m T11/12 heats and Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alnakhli (12.11) won the 100m T37.
Wheelchair racers go two for two
Tunisia’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Walid Ktila (1:53.55) notched up his second win in Dubai, 24 hours after setting a new 100m T34 world record. The 33-year-old took gold in the 800m T34.
There was a second victory too for Swiss Marcel Hug (1:39.29), who finished fastest in the heats of the men’s 800m T54 a day after winning the 1,500m T54.
Frenchman Pierre Fairbank, who topped the individual medals table at last year’s European Championships with four gold medals, took the win in the 800m T53.
Great Britain’s Paul Blake (2:10.71) made a welcome return to the track after injury last year, winning the 800m T36, while fellow Briton Andrew Small (2:21.68) won the 800m T33.
Out in the field, Algerians Lahouari Bahlaz and Nadia Medjmedj both secured their second win in two days.
Six-time world champion Bahlaz (34.17m) won the club throw F32 and Paralympic bronze medallist Medjmedj (9.64m) won the women’s shot put F54/56/57. Teammate Mourad Bouchir (10.49) took the top spot in the shot put F55/56.
Iran picked up two golds in the field – world and Paralympic silver medallist Hamed Amiri (10.87m) won the shot put F53/54 and former world champion Seyedmohsen Hosseinipanah (13.49m) won the shot put F35/36.
A final round effort of 12.31m by Greece’s European champion Apostolos Charitonidis in the shot put F37/38 pushed Kuwaiti Dhari Buti – who had been in the lead with a throw 12.30m in the penultimate round - down in to second place.
There were wins too for Sweden’s Jeffrey Ige (15.41m) in the shot put F11/20, Iraqi Ahmed Naas (33.09m) in the javelin F40/41, India’s Nishad Kumar who soared to 1.92m in the men’s high jump T42/44/46/47/64; and Kazakhstan’s Islam Salimov (6.48m) in the long jump T13/20.
Competition continues through to Wednesday (27 February) and full results from the Dubai Grand Prix can be found online each day.