More than 600 athletes from 36 countries will compete over the course of the competition – making Grosseto 2016 the biggest ever IPC Athletics European Championships, and the last major event for many to secure qualification to September’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In all, 22 medals will be decided on Saturday – and there is plenty of action out in the field, with Italy’s golden girl Martina Caironi stepping out in one of the first events of the day.
Caironi will face her chief rival Vanessa Low in the women’s long jump T42-44 – the first time the two F42 Para athletes have met since last year’s World Championships, where German Low defeated the 2013 world champion with a record-breaking leap of 4.79m. French star Marie-Amelie Le Fur (T44) was also in terrific form last year leaping a record 5.74m to win the T44 world title.
In the men’s high jump T12, reigning world champion Siarhei Burdukou of Belarus heads up a field including two other finalists from Doha 2015 – Russia’s bronze medallist Andrey Shashko and Montenegro’s Milos Ranitovic.
Russia’s Evgenii Torsunov was in superb form last year, smashing the long jump T36 world record with a leap of 5.66m at the Berlin Grand Prix in June before adding a further 15 centimetres three months later in Russia, just prior to winning the world title in Qatar.
Torsunov is one of many Russian stars who will line up in Grosseto over the next week – Saturday also sees javelin F11 world champion Vitalii Telesh in action.
The men’s high jump T42-44 has provided plenty of excitement in recent years and Grosseto 2016 should prove just as entertaining as the world gold and silver medallists, Poland’s Maciej Lepiato and Great Britain’s Jonathan Broom-Edwards, go head-to-head once again.
All three medallists from the 2014 European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, will battle it out once more in the men’s shot put F40/41.
Two years ago Poland’s Bartosz Tyszkowski took the top spot ahead of Great Britain’s Kyron Duke and Russia’s Dmitry Dushkin; Tyszkowski took the F41 world title last year and currently tops the world rankings after throwing 13.42m – one centimetre shy of his world record mark – last month.
As well as a number of track semi-finals – including the men’s 100m T42 featuring 2014 champion Clavel Kayitare of France, Britons Richard Whitehead and Dave Henson, Denmark’s Daniel Jorgensen and, back from injury, Germany’s Heinrich Popow - there are nine track finals taking place on Saturday.
Poland’s triple world champion Barbara Niewiedzial is one to watch in the women’s 1,500m T20, while France’s 400m T13 world champion Nantenin Keita goes in the 200m T13 final and her compatriot Timothee Adolphe – a double gold medallist at Swansea 2014 – kicks off his European campaign with the 100m T11.
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