With 15 weeks to go before the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships, many of the region’s top Para athletes underlined their medal-winning potential with impressive performances at the 13th International Meeting Kern Pharma in L'Hospitalet, Spain, on Sunday (6 May).
Germany’s triple world gold medallist Johannes Floors (10.99) stormed home to win the men’s 100m T62/64 to go top of the T62 world rankings, completing the sprint double with a convincing victory over 200m in 21.92.
Fellow TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen Para athlete Irmgard Bensusan (T44) also secured a sprint double, clocking 13.38 over 100m and 26.73 over 200m.
There was further joy for Germany as Paralympic, world and European champion Markus Rehm leapt 8.10m in the long jump to finish more than a metre clear of the two men he beat to gold at London 2017, France’s Alaize Jean Baptiste (6.97m) and the Netherlands’ Ronald Hertog (6.79m).
Dutchman Kenny van Weeghel (14.72) was the first over the line in the men’s 100m T53/54, adding the 200m (26.19) and 800m (1:45.70) to complete a hat trick of wins at the L'Hospitalet Nord stadium.
His teammate and fellow T54 Para athlete Margriet van den Broek made it two out of two, clocking 18.63 over 100m and 32.45 over 200m.
The Netherlands notched up further wins courtesy of Jelmar Bos (12.58) in the men’s 100m T36/37 and Stefan Rusch (16.99) in the men’s T34/51/52. Out in the field, the women’s long jump was won by the Netherlands’ T64 Para athlete Marlene van Gansewinkel (5.38m) and her teammate Lara Baars topped the women’s discus F40 world rankings with 20.90m.
Hosts Spain also secured a number of wins on home soil - European bronze medallist Martin Parejo Maza (11.93) was the fastest of the T11 sprinters over 100m; Lia Beel Quintana (13.64) won the women’s equivalent, adding the 200m later in 28.93; Melany Berges (13.27) was the fastest of the T12/T47 sprinters and T12 sprinter Jose Fernandez Taular (51.91) took the win in the men’s 400m.
Back in the field, double European champion Kim Lopez Gonzalez (15.46m) threw a world lead to win the men’s shot put F12/13; the 29-year-old also won the discus event – although he only registered a single mark, throwing 44.03m in the first round. Fellow Spaniard David Fernandez (F57) won the wheelchair event with a best of 10.35m.
South African duo Ndodomzi Ntutu (11.20) and Hilton Langenhoven (11.45) – 100m T12 gold and silver medallists at last month’s Commonwealth Games – took the top two spots in the 100m T12, repeating that order over 200m, with world ranked number one Ntutu clocking 22.95 and Langenhoven finishing in 23.42. Teammate Union Sekailwe (24.71) won the men’s 200m 36/37/38.
In the day’s distance races, Portugal’s T20 Para athlete Cristiano Pereira secured two wins – the 1,500m (4:12.86) and the 5,000m (14:45.19), while Spain’s Maricarmen Paredes was back out on the track for the women’s 1,500m two weeks after finishing third in the T11/12 marathon in London, Great Britain – this time she finished first, clocking 5:47.82.
Italy’s world champion Martina Caironi, who competes in the T63 class, opened her long jump season with an impressive world lead of 4.73m.