Three world records fell on a thrilling opening day of competition at the World Para Athletics Grosseto Grand Prix on Friday as Italy’s Lorenzo Marcantognini, South Africa’s Mpumelelo Mhlongo and USA’s Jessica Heims and all made their mark in Italy.
Teenager Marcantognini, who competes in the T63 class for single above-knee amputees established last year, recorded the sole world record on the track, clocking 1:17.74 over 400m on the first of three days of competition.
“This is a difficult result to achieve but we have made it thanks to the help of many people,” said the 16-year-old, who also represented Italy in amputee football at the 2014 World Cup in Mexico.
“I need to thank all the people that helped me get so far – firstly my coach and my family. This world record lets me understand that hard work always pays off and if you continue to work on what you want to achieve, you can do it.”
Mhlongo leapt a massive 7.03m to set a new world record in the men’s long jump T44. The 25-year-old, who finished fourth at the London 2017 World Championships, is the first in his class to go beyond seven metres this year.
Heims meanwhile added a massive two metres to the world record mark she set in April in the women’s discus F64, her best of 34.18m coming in the first round.
Back on the track and US world and Paralympic 100m T11 champion David Brown (54.34) finished ahead of Frenchman Gauthier Makunda (54.42) in the 400m, while Turkey’s European champion Oguz Akbulut (49.70) was the fastest finisher in the T12 race with a time that puts him second in the world rankings behind Morocco’s Nabil Rahhali Omari.
In the women’s vision impaired races, Azerbaijan’s Lamiya Valiyeva (58.44) came out on top, winning the 400m T13 nearly two seconds clear of USA’s Kym Crosby (1:00.34). Valiyeva’s time was the third fastest in the world so far this year – pushing Crosby down a place to fourth in the global rankings.
Russia’s Elena Tretiakova (1:06.13) now sits top of the rankings in the women’s 400m T37 thanks to her winning performance in Grosseto; teammate and former European champion Aleksei Kotlov (51.65) won the men’s 400m T47 just ahead of Austrian Gunther Matzinger (51.98).
Russia’s success continued in the day’s middle-distance races as Alexander Rabotnitskiy (3:49.48) and Pavel Sarkeev (3:59.65) claimed first and second in the men’s 1500m T20 and Elena Pautova (4:51.64) took the win in the women’s 1500m T12.
Russia flourish in field
There were victories for Russia off the track too.
Leading the way in the men’s long jump T35-38 was T37 Para athlete Sergei Biriukov (5.85m), with teammate and former T36 world and European champion Evgenii Torsunov (5.83m) just two centimetres further back. The 28-year-old, who set the current world record of 5.93m in the same venue at the 2016 European Championships, now sits comfortably at the top of the T36 world rankings.
The USA’s reigning world champion Jeremy Campbell (61.48m) made his mark on Italian soil with a convincing victory in the men’s discus F42-46/61-64, his best throw coming in the sixth and final round.
Home favourite Giuseppe Campoccio (24.79m) took the win in the men’s discus F32-34 and Belarusian Aliaksandr Tryputs (29.06m) won the men’s javelin F52-54 – albeit two metres short of the European record mark he threw in February this year.
The Grosseto Grand Prix continues until Sunday with full results available online.