Hosts Tunisia and visitors Morocco and Colombia topped the medals table in the second stop of the 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix season, which ended in Tunis on Saturday (20 March).
Local hero Walid Ktila was one of the stars of Africa’s largest Para sport competition, taking two golds in just a bit over two hours on the opening session. He won the men’s 100m T34/51/52 in 15.39, and followed that up with victory in the men’s 800m T34/54 in 1:52.69.
“The Grand Prix is an important step in the season and an important preparation for the Paralympic Games. I have an 18-year-long career and I hope I will be able to reach another good result in Tokyo,” said the three-time Paralympic champion.
Tunisian athletes took a total of 28 medals, including nine golds.
Moroccan athletes clinched 23 medals, with one of the highlights coming in the women’s discus throw F41. Youssra Karim beat home star and current world and Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili thanks to a world record-breaking throw of 35.33. The previous record (34.68) had belonged to Tlili since 2019.
“I’m so happy. Now I feel very motivated for Tokyo 2020. I want to thank my whole team for this great result”, said Karim.
Tlili, who grabbed gold in the shot put F41 (9.76), added: “It felt like the Games. It was such a good battle between myself and Karim. I got silver today, but let’s see who is going to be the strongest at Tokyo."
Colombians topped the podium seven times, courtesy of Diego Menezes in the men’s javelin F33/34 and shot put F34, Jean Carlos Mina in the men’s 100m T13, Jose Gregorio Lemos in the men’s long jump T20, Angie Pabon in the women’s 400m and 100m T11, and Martha Liliana in the women’s shot put F36.
Dubai 2019 world champions also left Tunis triumphant. France’s Timothee Adolphe was the fastest in the men’s 100m T11 and Ecuador's Kiara Rodriguez took gold in her favourite event: the women’s long jump.
Another Ecuadorian victory came in the men’s 1500m T11 with Lima 2019 Parapan American champion Darwin Castro finishing only 0.57 ahead of Kenya’s Wilson Bii. It was Castro’s comeback after finishing second to Rio 2016 bronze medallist Bii in the men’s 5000m T11.
The Kenyan said: “The conditions were not ideal, it was difficult because of the weather. But I tried my best and I could make a good race."
Cuba dominated the T12 races. Paralympic legend Omara Durand won the women’s 100m and 200m, while Rio 2016 double Paralympic champion Leinier Savon finished first in the men’s 100m.
Twenty-four athletes from 13 countries (Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo, DR of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Palestine, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo and Yemen) competed in the Grand Prix thanks to support by the International Paralympic Committee's NPC Development Programme, powered by Worldwide Paralympic Partner Toyota.
Complete results from Tunis 2021 can be found online.
The Grand Prix season resumes in Italy with the Jesolo GP being staged from 16-18 April.