Head-to-heads take centre stage in Germany

Major rivalries line up at Bayer Invitational Meeting in Leverkusen 20 Jun 2019
Four female Para athletes running in a track

Irmgard Bensusan of Germany [number 57] is one of the stars in action in Leverkusen

ⒸMika Volkmann
By World Para Athletics

Big-name rivalries take centre stage at the Bayer Invitational Meeting in Leverkusen, Germany on Friday.

Local stars Felix Streng (T64) and Johannes Floors (T62) line up over 100m, while the 200m sees T61 sprinters Richard Whitehead of Great Britain and Ntando Mahlangu of South Africa go head-to-head.

Out in the field, home favourite Niko Kappel, a recent shot put F41 world record-breaker, competes against Briton Kyron Duke, who has also been in terrific form this season.

Streng and Floors finished first and second respectively in the 100m T64 at last year’s European Championships and both were part of Germany’s gold medal-winning sprint relay quartet at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Floors, who won individual titles over 200m and 400m at the London 2017 World Championships , has already been in sensational form this season, breaking the 100m T62 world record at the Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland last month, where he clocked 10.75 seconds.

Streng missed the Nottwil meeting due to illness – but he has a superb track record in Leverkusen, having raced a season’s best 10.67 there this time last year.

Top T61 duo in action

Whitehead and Mahlangu are undoubtedly the top two sprinters in the men’s T61 class for double above-knee amputees, having won gold and silver respectively at Rio 2016 and London 2017.

The 42-year-old Whitehead has two Paralympic and four world titles to his name, while 17-year-old Mahlangu has already set new 100m, 400m and long jump T61 world records this year.

The pair have built up a thrilling rivalry in recent years and the experienced Brit is coming under increasing pressure from his young teenage rival.

At last year’s IAAF Diamond League Anniversary Games in London, it was Mahlangu who crossed the line first in a world-leading 23.56 seconds.

Women's sprints

In the women’s sprints, Germany’s Irmgard Bensusan (T44) and Dutch duo Fleur Jong (T62) and Marlene van Gansewinkel (T64) all start.

Bensusan and van Gansewinkel have also re-written the record books already this season, setting new world records in their classes at the Nottwil Grand Prix.

Bensusan, a triple silver medallist at Rio 2016, clocked 12.72 in the 100m and 26.23 over 200m, while 24-year-old van Gansewinkel took 0.19 seconds off the time she set on her way to European 100m T64 gold last year, racing home in 12.66.

Van Gansewinkel also takes on the long jump, where she will face reigning world champion Stef Reid of Great Britain.

Rehm at home

The men’s long jump competition features one man who remains hard to beat – home favourite and reigning Paralympic, world and European champion Markus Rehm (T64), while Japan’s Atsushi Yamamoto and Germany’s Leon Schafer battle it out in the T63 class.

Watch out too for Briton Harrison Walsh, who returns to Leverkusen having competed there last year in the shot put and discus.

The 23-year-old former rugby player, whose playing career ended after a horrific injury to his leg during a match in 2015 recently set a new shot put F44 world record (15.73m) in Grosseto, Italy, in only his second full season in the sport.

Competition results from Leverkusen can be found here.