Hug excited for the season opener in Dubai

Switzerland’s Marcel Hug who will be looking to defend five world titles later this year will be one of the star names at the first IPC Athletics Grand Prix of the year. 13 Feb 2015
A man with a silver helmet and red jersey leans forward on his racing wheelchair

Marcel Hug won two silvers at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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“I can’t wait to go outside in Dubai and see what my condition is like in the warm weather.”

Switzerland’s five-time world champion from 2013 Marcel Hug cannot wait to get the new 2015 IPC Athletics Grand Prix Series underway in Dubai, UAE, in nine days’ time.

Hug is one of the big-name attractions to the event – the 7th Fazaa Athletics Competition which takes place from 22-25 February – and is set to feature more than 500 athletes from nearly 50 countries.

The 29-year-old believes a strong start to his season is vital, and with an important few months ahead, including April’s IPC Athletics Marathon World Championships in London, Great Britain, and October’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Hug is also keen to find out what progress his rivals have made over the winter months.

A regular competitor at the Dubai meeting, Hug believes the Grand Prix, which takes place at the Dubai Police Club track, will help provide a vital indication of what work lies ahead.

“I’ve been there [Dubai] many times, and I always have good memories,” said Hug. “There are always good competitors there so I’m really looking forward to the competition. The weather conditions will be good and I like warm weather so I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s the first competition this year, I’ve had a long break, so it’s interesting to see where I am now – and the condition of other athletes.”

Winter in Switzerland has brought snow and freezing temperatures, meaning Hug has been restricted to training indoors on rollers. Now, the opportunity to get out on the track and measure his progress is one he relishes.

“It’s very important I have a good start to the season to give me confidence,” explained Hug. “You can see whether or not you are in a good position to continue the season. It’s very important.

“It’s difficult to say how my condition is because we have only trained on the rollers these last few weeks, but on the rollers it feels good.

“I can’t wait to go outside in Dubai and see what my condition is like in the warm weather.”

Twelve months ago Hug kicked off his 2014 campaign with impressive form on the Dubai track, competing in six events from the 100m up to the 5,000m.

Wins in the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m provided the foundations for a remarkable season that included victory at the Paris and London marathons, as well as success on his home track in Nottwil, Switzerland where he got the better of his chief rival, Great Britain’s David Weir, in all but the 400m – winning the 800m, 5,000m and 10,000m T54.

Then came the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain. With Weir ruled out due to injury, their much-anticipated battle was postponed. Hug clinched three golds and one bronze on the track, but that unfinished business with Weir remains a key focus for the year ahead.

”It’s true I’m really looking forward to competing against him [Weir] again,” said Hug. “I hope he’s going to the London marathon - I’m really looking forward to that.”

The Swiss ‘silver bullet’ will once again take on all the events available to his T54 class in Dubai; the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m – and a strong performance against the likes of the German duo - European 1,500m and 5,000m T54 silver medallist Alhassane Balde and his compatriot Marc Schuh, who won 400m silver and 800m T54 bronze in Swansea – is vital.

“First in Dubai it’s important to get the national standard for the World Championships,” he explained.

Other stars names set for action in Dubai in the season opener include Great Britain’s Hannah Cockroft, the Netherlands’ Marlou van Rhijn and Germany’s Markus Rehm.