Grand Prix series heads to Europe

Track and field stars line up in Switzerland for Nottwil Grand Prix 23 May 2019
Rheed McCracken looks to the front after a race while wearing his Australian gear and helmet after the race

Rheed McCracken, a regular at the annual Swiss meeting, will have a chance to check out his main rivals

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By World Para Athletics

In a busy weekend for Para athletics, with events taking place around the world, the focus for many is on Nottwil, Switzerland; where three days of track and field action take place from Friday to Sunday.

In the last two years, no fewer than 15 world records have fallen at the renowned Swiss track, so expect competition to be tough.


The Australian team is out in force, with Evan O’Hanlon (T38), Chad Perris (T13), Scott Reardon (T63), Rheed McCracken (T34) and Angie Ballard (T53) all in action.

For McCracken, a regular at the annual Swiss meeting, it will be a chance to check out his major rivals. The men’s T34 races in Nottwil typically include many of the world’s best and this year is no different.

Alongside the Australian will be Tunisia’s Walid Ktila, UAE’s Mohammed Alhammadi and Finland’s Henry Manni – together the four wheelchair racers amassed 11 medals at the London 2017 World Championships.

Dutchman Stefan Rusch also races; the 25-year-old won 100m T34 gold at last year’s European Championships.

Germany also sends a number of their big names to the Swiss track, including world medallists Johannes Floors (T62), Katrin Mueller-Rottgard (T12), Lindy Ave (T38) and Irmgard Bensusan (T44).

European champion Felix Streng (T64), who missed the last World Championships through injury, is another big name in action.

Belgium’s Peter Genyn and Finland’s Toni Piispanen renew their long-standing rivalry in the 100m T51 – this time joined by London 2017 finalists Edgar Navarro of Mexico and Portugal’s Helder Mestre.

All three World Championship podium finishers line up in the men’s 100m T53 – Canada’s Brent Lakatos, Briton Mickey Bushell and Thailand’s Pongsakorn Paeyo.

China’s Shaoqiao Yang, 22, who won a hat-trick of bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Para Games, could also threaten.


Briton Hannah Cockroft opened her season last weekend and will no doubt be hard to beat in the women’s 800m T34.

The 26-year-old 10-time world champion notched up four wins out of four last year; the year before that she set a new 1,500m T34 world record.

The men’s and women’s T53 and T54 races are, as expected, bursting with talent.

Australian Madison de Rozario heads up the women’s T53 field which also includes teammate Ballard, US racer Chelsea McClammer and Turkey’s Hamide Dogangun.

De Rozario, who clinched three medals at London 2017 including 5,000m T54 gold, turns her attention back to the track after an early season of marathon racing – she claimed world bronze around the streets of the British capital in April.

The women’s T54 distance races will be highly competitive with local hero Manuela Schaer, China’s Lihong Zou and US trio Tatyana McFadden, Amanda McGrory, Susannah Scaroni all in attendance.

It is a similar case in the men’s T54 class – plenty of star performers – although no doubt all eyes will be on US man-of-the-moment Daniel Romanchuk.

The 21-year-old, who won marathon world gold last month, lines up against home favourite Marcel Hug, Tunisia’s Yassine Gharbi, China’s Yong Zhang, Japanese racers Masazumi Soejima, Kota Hokinoue, Sho Watanabe and Tomoki Suzuki and Thai duo Rawat Tana and Prawat Wahoram.


Germany have not only sent their big-name sprinters to Nottwil; stars will be out in the field too. Streng competes in the long jump T64; teammates Niko Kappel (shot put F41), Daniel Scheil (shot put & javelin F33) and Sebastian Dietz (shot put F36) also line up.

Now competing in Australian colours, Germany’s former world champion Vanessa Low goes in the long jump T63.

Morocco’s Paralympic shot put F34 champion Azeddine Nouiri, Belarusian Aliaksandr Tryputs, the 2018 European javelin F54 champion, and Dutch pair Marlene van Gansewinkel (women’s long jump T64) and Lara Baars (women’s discus F40) also compete in Nottwil.