“It’s been a great week. It was good for me because it’s very important to see everything as I’ve never been to Rio or South America before."
Swiss “Silver Bullet” Marcel Hug believes he will reap the benefits at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games after competing at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in the city on Saturday (21 May).
Hug has been in the Rio all week to get a first-hand experience of what he can expect at September’s Paralympic Games and on Saturday he won the men’s 400m T54 in 48.83 seconds at the meeting which is acting as a Rio 2016 test event.
“It was nice to compete in the stadium today,” said Hug. “It’s been a great week. It was good for me because it’s very important to see everything as I’ve never been to Rio or South America before.
“It was good to see everything, the facilities and how the people are. I like the stadium, especially the blue track. I like the city, and especially the people here are so nice.
“There are so many little puzzles to fit together before Rio such as how I can deal with everything such as jetlag,” added Hug who will line-up in his home Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland from Thursday (26 May).
“I will go back home tomorrow and hope I will not be too tired ahead of Nottwil. There has been a short time change from the marathons to the track so maybe I’m not in the best form on the track at this time but it will be a good test to see where my form is.”
The men’s T54 race was one of many 400m events on Saturday morning.
Felipe Gomes (51.26) continued his impressive form at this meeting rounding off a hat-trick of sprint wins in the men’s T11 class with a world lead time this year. The 30-year-old beat world champion Daniel Silva to add to his wins over 100m and 200m earlier in the week.
“It was a good race. I wish I could have been as calm as I was over 100m and 200m but that’s my first run over 400m with my new guide so it was pretty good,” said Gomes who now has Silva’s world record of 49.82 in his sights.
“I really need to work on this race, but I am glad where I am right now. I am still figuring out where I am right now but I know I can certainly get close to the world record this year,” he added.
Veronia Hipolito (1:04.95) secured her second win on the track in the 400m T38. After nine months out following surgery, and having suffered a cold for the last two weeks, the 19-year-old was happy with her return to the track, but not overly happy with her race.
“I made a mistake, my first 200m was not as fast as it should be but it’s been a short bit of time for training, but I’m glad with what I’ve done here,” said Hipolito, a winner of gold over 400m at last August’s Parapan American Games in 1:03.42.
“Bearing in mind I’ve only had three weeks of training , I know I should be happy with this time, but I know that I can be much better. I gave my best effort and I know I will get much better.”
Other Brazilian winners over 400m included world bronze medallist Thalita Vitoria Simplicio da Silva (58.22) in the women’s T11, Renato Caetano de Oliveira (51.05) in the men’s T12 and Teresinha de Jesus Correia dos Santos (59.94) in the women’s T47.
Colombia’s Juan Moreno Marquez (58.25) won the men’s T36.
The USA’s world champion Michael Brannigan (3:56.34) looked in great form as he won the men’s 1,500m T20 in a new Americas record, lowering his previous best set seven months ago by 0.16 seconds. Brazil’s Yagonny Reis de Sousa (4:11.13) claimed the win in the men’s 1,500m T46.
Two Americas records also fell in the field courtesy of Ricardo Alves Nunes and the USA’s Michael Wishnia. Nunes’ (11.04m) throw in the men’s shot put F55 added 4cm to the previous best set by the USA’s Scott Winkler at the 2011 Parapan American Games. Wishnia (14.30m) beat his own shot put F57 Americas record by 53cm.
Japan’s Toru Suzuki (2.02m) took the gold in the men’s high jump T44 with a new Asian record. Not only did he add 2cm to his previous best set last year in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but he now leads the world rankings for this year.
Elsewhere in the field Gindro Guerra PG (1.79m) won a tightly fought men’s high jump T47, Parapan champion Marivan Oliveira da Nobrega (8.98m) topped the podium in the women’s shot put F36 and Izabela Silva Campos (10.32m) won the women’s shot put F11.
During four days of competition in Rio, two world, 15 Americas, 1 European, 1 African and 1 Asian record were set. Attention now switches to Switzerland and the next Grand Prix which takes place in Nottwil between 26-29 May.