Kobe 2024: Paralympic champions return to Japan in style on day two

Six Tokyo 2020 gold medallists top the podium on Saturday at the Para Athletics World Championships, including a first world title for Ethiopia's Tigist Gezahagn Menigstu in the women's 5000m T13 followed by another Ethiopian victory with Yayesh Gate Tesfaw setting a new world record in the women's 1500m T11 18 May 2024
A female runner ahead of two competitors
Tokyo 2020 champion Tigist Gezahagn Menigstu of Ethiopia took her first World Championships gold on Saturday in Kobe
ⒸKOBE2024/Moto Yoshimura
By Kai Dambach I For World Para Athletics

Several Paralympic champions from the Tokyo 2020 Games showed that they feel at home in Japan adding a world title to their collection on Saturday (18 May) in Kobe. 

In the women’s 1500m T13, the reigning Paralympic winner Tigist Gezahagn Menigstu of Ethiopia continued her domination in the category, finishing her run in a championship record time of 4:18.90, over five seconds faster than silver medallist Fatima Ezzahra El Idrissi of Morocco. Tunisia’s Somaya Bousaid took bronze.

Fellow 2020 Paralympic gold medallist Wen Xiaoyan was the only woman to clear 5 metres in the women’s long jump T37 at the Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium. Wen was just 3 centimetres off her world record jump from last year, but still bested her championship record from Dubai 2019 with a 5.42m leap.  

Spain’s Yassine Ouhadi El Ataby, also a defending Paralympic and World champion, pushed through in the men’s 5000m T13. In his final kick in the final lap, he went from a lead of under a quarter-second to taking time to soak in the glory by winning by more than four seconds.

“Three years ago, we were here for the Games in Tokyo and I won the 5000m, so it brought me some good memories. To have so many people here cheering for us makes me proud,” said El Ataby. 

Kim Lopez Gonzalez was another Spanish Paralympic champion to remain on top of the podium in the men’s shot put F12. His second attempt of 15.22m was the best in the event, and only one of two attempts to travel at least 15 meters. The other attempt to travel that far came from Emils Dzilna of Latvia for the silver.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion and Rio 2016 silver medallist Jonathan Broom-Edwards of Great Britain managed to just beat out Derek Loccident of the United States in the men’s high jump T64. Both managed to clear 2.04m, a new championship record by 12 centimetres, with the British athlete taking gold for reaching the mark in his first attempt.

“We set out a plan and we put it into motion, and we ticked all the boxes. There is still a lot to work on with the performance even though it is early in the season,” Broom-Edwards said. “I am so happy with how the competition went. My body is battered now, I think I celebrated a bit too hard on the 2.04m clearance.”

Cuba’s Robiel Yankiel Sol Cervantes, defending Paralympics and world champion, as well as a world record holder in the men’s long jump T47, showed why he is the best by launching himself 7.60m for the top spot. That was more than a quarter-metre longer than neutral athlete Nikita Kotukov’s silver medal leap. 

Tesfaw smashes world record

Ethiopia’s Yayesh Gate Tesfaw is not on the list of current Paralympic champions but she showed she will be one of the names to beat the Games in Paris this year. She took gold in the women’s 1500m T11 in world record time, smashing the previous mark by nearly six seconds clocking 4:31.77. He Shanshan of China grabbed silver and an Asian record.

"I'm extremely happy with this gold and the world record. I'm going for more in Paris," said Tesfaw.

Chinese women jumped for joy on top of the podium over and over on Saturday. 

Zhao Yuping needed just one throw in the women’s javelin throw F13 to put herself on top of the podium. Her first attempt of 44.86m would be the longest of the day. Austria’s Natalija Eder set a season best 38.52m for silver, and neutral athlete Lizaveta Dabravolskaya finished third with her final legal throw.

The women’s 5000m T54 final was very tight, with all of the athletes finishing within 0.6 seconds of each other. But China’s Tian Yajuan took the lead with 500 meters left and managed to just pull away from Germany’s Merle Marie Menje after the final turn to set a championship record.

Li Yingli brought more gold to China in the shot put F37. Her second attempt of 13.52m was more than enough for the top spot. Her teammate, Mi Na, nabbed bronze in the event with a throw of 12.83m.

Speed was also the name of the game on Saturday in Kobe, with four 100m events at the Universiade Memorial Stadium. All of those events saw previous championship records fall in the span of about one hour.

Brazil got another gold thanks to Ricardo Gomes de Mendonca’s 11.30 second sprint in the men’s 100m T37. He shaved 0.14 seconds off the previous championship record set in Dubai 2019 by neutral athlete Andrei Vdovin, who won silver. 

After the win, Mendonca dedicated his victory to everyone fighting cancer, including his cousin, as well as the Brazilian voice actor for Kid Goku from the popular Dragonball manga and anime series who is fighting a tumour. Mendonca said he was a big anime fan and showed off his Kid Goku tattoo following the race.

“It means a lot to me to win the world title in Japan. I am a big fan of anime and manga, and it was also here, in Tokyo, that I competed in my first Paralympic Games. My first world title in Paris last year was of course one unforgettable, but this is really special," Mendonca said.

New champion on the block

Everyone in the men’s 100m T12 final equalled or bettered their season best, but just one could set a new championship record. That responsibility fell on Serkan Yildirim of Turkey, just beating the record by one-hundredth of one second, but his time of 10.53 seconds just edged out Paris 2023 champion Noah Malone of the United States by 0.02 seconds for that coveted gold medal and competition record. Zachary Shaw of Great Britain finished the podium with a 10.97 second sprint.

Jaydin Blackwell of the US bested the men’s 100m T38 championship record, which had stood for nearly 11 years, to retain his world crown. His time of 10.86 was the only run under 11 seconds. Great Britain’s Thomas Young had a season best sprint of 11.02 for silver, and China’s Zhou Peng won bronze with a time of 11.07 seconds, a personal record.

“I love standing on that podium. A lot of people don’t get that opportunity, so to do it twice, it gives me determination and makes me want to do it again in future years,” Blackwell said.

Lamiya Valiyeva of Azerbaijan set a new championship record in the women’s 100m T13.  Her gold medal sprint of 11.94 seconds was never in doubt from the starting gun, beating the 12-second mark for the first time in championship history. Rayane Soares da Silva of Brazil snagged silver with a 12.41 second sprint, and Gloria Majaga came in third one second later.

Algeria excelled in the men’s club throw F32. Ahmed Mehideb had the gold medal in all but one of his legal throws, but he saved his best for last, leading everyone with a 37.61m throw in his final attempt. Countryman Walid Ferhah’s penultimate attempt put him in second place with a 36.30m throw, ahead of neutral athlete Aleksei Churkin’s lone legal throw which flew far enough for bronze.

Brazil picked the last gold medal of the evening session with Cicero Nobre, who won the men's javelin F57 world title setting a championship record (50.18m) in his penultimate attempt. Paris 2023 champion Turkey's Muhammet Khalvandi finished second (49.80m) and Indonesia's Fauzi Purwolaksono.

Following Saturday’s events, both China and Brazil have six gold medals. China has 16 total medals, while Brazil has 11, the only two countries with double digit medal hauls so far.

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

Complete schedule, all results, medallists and records are available here