Perfect conditions saw records broken and unforgettable performances produced as the 8th Integrative Athletics Sports Festival in Leverkusen, Germany, took place on 9 June.
The competition featured both Para athletes and able-bodied on the track, and the home crowd especially had plenty to cheer ahead of the World Para Athletics European Championships set for August in Berlin.
German Paralympic champion Niko Kappel was among those after launching the shot put past 14 metres for the first time, delighting the audience with a new world record* of 14.02 in the F41 class.
Kappel said: "A great meeting allows great performances."
On the track, an all-German showdown between Johannes Floors and Felix Streng caused goosebumps ahead of Berlin 2018.
Streng won the men’s 100m T64 class in 10.77 seconds, and lowered that time even further in in the final when he clocked 10.67. Floors sprinted to 10.79 seconds in the finals, and his time was a world lead in the T62 class.
Streng and Floors met again over 200m. They were running side by side all the way to the end, where Floors held on by a tenth of a second to win by 21.32 seconds – the fastest time in the world this year. Streng was pleased with his time of 21.42.
"I begrudge him that [he won], but it just annoys me too. It was such a great race,” Streng said.
That was also true for Great Britain’s Richard Whitehead. The two-time Paralympic winner over 200m in the men’s T42 started now over 400m and came in 49.85 seconds to the finish, another world lead.
Whitehead said: "The event is always firmly in my plan. I like the fact that there are so many kids here - and that Paralympic athletes are competing against Olympic athletes in this meet.”
Despite a headwind, Germany’s Irmgard Bensusan was only two hundredths of a second outside the German record in 13.04 seconds over 100m in the women’s T44.
Japan’s Atsushi Yamamoto won the long jump T63 ahead of his Danish rival and world champion Daniel Wagner by 6.26 to Wagner’s 6.14m. German Paralympic champion Heinrich Popow was third with 6.08m.
Popow, who has competed at every Integrative Sportfest and will finish his career after his home European Championships, said: "It was always perfect here. I've seen the meeting become more and more professional, but we still have that familiar atmosphere that makes top stars like Whitehead come here. The sports festival is unique."
*subject to ratification by World Para Athletics