Kobe 2024: Monday sees shocking wins on the track and the field

Algeria’s Skander Athmani in the men's 100m T13, Azerbaijan’s Said Najafzade in the men's long jump T12 and Mexico Gloria Zarza Guadarrama in the women's shot put F54 dethrone defending champions on day four; China and India produce world record performances as Brazil has another strong day in Japan 20 May 2024
A man crossing the finish line in an athletics race ahead of five competitors
Skander Djamil Athmani of Algeria (third from the right) crosses the line first to take the men's 100m T13 gold medal
ⒸToru Hanai/Getty Images
By Kai Dambach I For World Para Athletics

A Monday of surprises in the morning and evening sessions on day four of the Kobe 2024 Para Athletics World Championships. Azerbaijan’s Said Najafzade and Algeria’s Skander Athmani dethroned the defending champions at the Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium to place their names among the medal favourites with 100 days to go to the Paralympic Games in Paris.

There was quite a shock in the men’s long jump T12 final. Doniyor Saliev of Uzbekistan, the defending world champion and world record holder from Paris 2023, fouled on his first three attempts and could not progress to the final round. With the door wide open, Azerbaijan’s Najafzade, the bronze medalist from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, launched himself to the top of the podium with a career record of 7.30 metres. 

The men’s 100m T13 final was loaded with talent, including two Paralympic champions, and a world champ. Athmani, the defending 400m T13 Paralympic champion, managed to come out on top with a championship record 10.44 second effort down the track. Shuta Kawakami put up a new Asian record on home soil, while Salum Ageze Kashafali, the world record holder, defending world champion and Paralympic gold medalist, took bronze. 

“Winning the 100m is special, is different than other events. I do the 400m but the 100m is different. I feel that I am so fast, that is the best feeling,” the Algerian sprinter said. “I’m always working for the best thing, for more records, so this is a good start with a good result [before the Paris 2024 Games].

Gloria Zarza Guadarrama beat Paralympic champion Francisca Mardones of Chile and defending champion Elizabeth Rodrigues Gomes of Brazil in the women’s shot put F54 final. She achieved 8.04m in her third throw to win Mexico’s first gold medal at Kobe 2024. Gomes finished second and Uzbekistan’s Nurkhon Kurbanova third just ahead of Mardones.

Podium sweep and record for China

China added to their leading medal haul, sweeping the men’s 400m T54 podium. Hu Yang lead everyone across the line in championship record time, becoming the first competitor to ever finish in under 45 seconds with a time of 44.98. Dai Yunqiang snagged silver with a season best 45.78 seconds, and Yhang Ying needed to set a personal best at 46.28 seconds to win the bronze medal.

China also has a new world record. Shi Yiting pushed the bar ever higher – or faster in this case – in the women’s 100m T36, as she set the new standard with a 13.35 second finish. That betters the world record with was set just two months ago by 0.06 seconds, and beats her own championship record from 2017 by more than 0.3 seconds. 

"I didn't expect to break the world record as I have been suffering injuries recently, but I was motivated by my strong opponent on the tracks," Ytting said. “Coach, team members, staff, and all the supporters, thank you very much. Kobe is very beautiful. It's exactly like the scenery I saw in the Japanese anime 'Cardcaptor Sakura' when I was a child,”

New Zealand’s Danielle Aitchison finished second and Brazil’s Veronica Hipolito third.

The other world record of the day came with India’s Deepthi Jeevanji who crossed the line in the women’s 400m T20 in a time of 55.07 seconds, besting the previous world record by 0.05 seconds and becoming one of the names to watch out for at Paris 2024. 

Her gold medal run was never in doubt, as she held the lead the entire time in the lap around the track. Aysel Onder of Turkey put up a new European record, completing the race in 55.19 seconds, while Ecuador’s Lizanshela Angulo set a career best for the bronze medal.

Brazil strong again

Brazil had another strong day in Kobe, taking home another four gold medals on day four of competition. 

Claudiney Batista dos Santos’s three legal throws in the men’s discus throw F56 to get the day started were all long enough to secure the gold, but of course the longest counts. The world and championship record holder set a season best in his final legal throw with a toss of 45.14 metres, more than 3 metres further than Yogesh Kathuniya of India, who also had a season best on the day.

Julio Cesar Agripino dos Santos, the men’s 1500m T11 victor from Dubai 2019, returned to the top of the podium. Despite trailing going into the final lap, he managed to lead the pack going into the final turn, and pulled far away, setting a new championship record by nearly 2.5 seconds.  

“It was a very emotional race. I almost fell down, as athletes were very close to each other showing that this is very tight event with a high level,” Agripino said next to his compatriot and 5000m T11 Yeltsin Jacques who fell on the track and was disqualified. 

“He [Jacques] is not a rival, he makes me improve everyday to become a better runner. I am sure we will both achieve great things in Paris this year.”

Elizabeth Rodrigues Gomes, the world record holder in the women’s discus throw F53, asserted her dominance again. All of her attempts were long enough to secure gold, but her final attempt beat the championship record she set last year with a mark of 17.22 metres.  

And Rayane Soares da Silva, a two-time championship medalist, found her way to glory in the women’s 200m T13. She set a career record in the half-lap race, finishing nearly a half-second faster than her previous best in a time of 24.89 seconds.  

Germany’s Nico Kappel claimed his first world title in seven years in the men’s shot put F41 setting a new championship record in his fourth throw (14.23m). Uzbekistan’s Paralympic champion Bobirjon Omonov had to settle for silver while China’s Jun Huang took bronze.  

Everyone in the women’s long jump T64 set a new mark. Everyone set new season bests in the competition, but the winner decided to push the championship boundaries even further. Defending Paralympic and world champion Fleur Jong launched herself 6.53 metres, setting a new championship record and flying past fellow Dutchwoman Marlene Van Gansewinkel by 92 centimetres for the gold. Maya Nakanishi put the hosts on the podium in third place.

Colombia made a one-two podium in the men’s javelin F38 with Paralympic and world champion Jose Gregorio Lemos Rivas adding more gold to his collection. He broke a five-year-old championship record (56.75m), 4.02m ahead of Luis Fernando Lucumi Villegas who took silver. 

Neutral athlete Andrei Vdovin took gold in the men’s 200m T37 with a season best 23.09 result. 

Guity wraps up the action with gold

South Africa, Costa Rica and Iran joined Mexico as the countries that found gold for the first time on Monday.

Iran’s Amirhossein Alipour Darbeid was the undisputed champion in the men’s shot put F11. His third attempt travelled 14.61 metres, breaking a championship record which had previously stood for over two decades. The record throw was 99 centimetres further than the silver medal winner, neutral athlete Igor Baskakov. Baskakov set a career record with his fourth attempt. Iran also took bronze thanks to Mahdi Olad’s season best throw of 13.28 metres. 

Mpumelelo Mhlongo, the world record holder and defending world champion in the men’s 100m T44, made South Africa proud by returning to the top of the podium with a season best 11.34 seconds. He cruised past the competition, beating all comers by over four-tenths of a second. 

Ending the day on a high note for Costa Rica, Sherman Isidro Guity Guity was gone from the starting gun in the men’s 100m T64. The lone athlete to finish in under 11 seconds finally got the gold he was looking for after finishing second in the 2020 Paralympics and 2023 World Championships. Hunter Woodhall of the US finished in silver, and Derek Loccident, who won silver in the men’s high jump T64 on Saturday, got the bronze.

“I’m really happy with this result, this makes me want to come back to Japan more times. Next is the Paralympic Games so now I will continue my preparations to go for another medal in Paris,” Guity said.

Following Monday’s events, China has secured the most gold medals with 13, followed by Brazil with 12. China also leads the overall medal count with 33 total medals. Brazil is not far behind, having picked up 20 so far in Kobe.

Complete results, medallists and records from Kobe 2024 Worlds are available here

Kobe 2024 is being streamed live on the World Para Athletics Facebook page and the Paralympics YouTube channel.