Kobe 2024: Rehm extends his reign, Alphonse makes history for Mauritius

German blade jumper Markus Rehm takes his seventh world title and sees 'big jumps coming' ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympics as Noemi Alphonse's 100m T54 victory puts her country on the top of the podium for the first time ever; Morocco's Youssra Karim finally turns silver into gold in the women’s discus throw F41 while Brazil reaches most successful Para Athletics World Championships campaign and Saudi Arabia grab first gold medal in Japan 22 May 2024
Three men with prosthetic legs posing for a picture in a competition
Markus Rehm (centre) celebrating with silver Derek Loccident (left) and bronze medallist Trenten Merrill of the USA
ⒸPaul Miller/Getty Images
By Kai Dambach I For World Para Athletics

The big names came back to play on day six at the Kobe 2024 Para Athletics World Championships, and one country came away with its first-ever gold medal. 

Germany’s Markus Rehm, leapt with a vengeance in the men’s long jump T64. Three years ago in Japan, he won his fourth Paralympic gold but still was not satisfied with his performance. It was a different story at the Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium on Wednesday (22 May).

His season best jump of 8.30 metres gave Rehm his seventh long jump world title. That leap was more than 0.5 metres further than Derek Loccident of the US, who set an Americas record for the silver with a jump of 7.69 metres. Fellow US American Trenten Merrill grabbed the bronze with his final two jumps.

“I had a competition just four days ago and I didn’t go well at all, so I’m very happy and grateful that it went much better today,” said Rehm, who is confident to go even farther at the Paralympic Games. “There are some big jumps somewhere there. I can’t find them yet, but I will in Paris. We’re in the right direction.”

Mauritius picked its first gold medal at a Para Athletics World Championships in the women’s 100m T54. Noemi Alphonse made her country proud with a 16.23 second sprint down the line for the hardware. China’s Zhou Zhaoqian set a new season best for silver in 16.34.

“I’m very grateful for all the persons who have been accompanying me all these nine years. It just feels wonderful, we have been working so hard and, finally, the title is here. It’s the first for Mauritius and I hope there will be more during these two days left,” Alphonse said. “Thank you, Japan, for your kindness, for your motivation, for everything.”

Youssra Karim of Morocco pushed her way to the top of the podium for the first time in her career in the women’s discus throw F41. The silver medalist in this event in Dubai 2019, Paris 2023 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, she blew past the previous championship record by 2.86 metres in her third attempt for a gold medal distance of 37.34m. It was the first time Karim beat two-time Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili of Tunisia in a major event. The Tunisian was second with a 34.94 metre throw.

“I’m so happy, it is fantastic. I was second in Tokyo, I was second last year. But this time I finally won. Now I will go for more in Paris and I am sure there will be a lot of support from the Moroccan fans there,” Karim said.

Poland’s Barbara Bieganowska-Zajac did not let technical issues which delayed the start of the women’s 1500m T20 phase her. The three-time defending Paralympic champion in the event cruised ahead of the pack early and broke away from Brazil’s Antonia Keyla da Silva Barros to break her own championship record by more than a second.

Brazil set new record

Defending Paralympic champion and world champion Saeid Afrooz of Iran defended himself in the men’s javelin throw F34. All of his attempts were far enough for the gold, with his fifth attempt of 40.14m flying far enough for a new season best. Colombia rounded off the podium, with both competitors earning season bests. Mauricio Valencia|s third attempt traveled 37.07m for silver, and Diego Fernando Meneses Medina’s opening throw flying 36.54m for the bronze medal.

Two-time Paralympic silver medalist Zhong Huanghao of China also found his way to the top in the men’s long jump T38. His first legal attempt put him ahead of everyone for the rest of the event with a season best 6.66m. The rest of the finalists set either season or personal bests in the competition. Neutral athlete Khetag Khinchagov showed a season best 6.52 metres for silver and China’s Zhou Peng, the Dubai 2019 winner in the T37, also had a season best for bronze.

Brazil’s Fernanda Yara da Silva took gold in the women’s 400m T47 in a season best time of 57.35 seconds. Da Silva thought that her outside lane, lane seven, was lucky.

“I told you, I told you, that lane seven is the lucky lane,” said Da Silva while watching the men’s 400m T37 won by her compatriot Bartolomeu da Silva Chaves. 

The event saw new career and season bests for nearly every athlete in the final, which included Lisbeli Marina Vera Andrade’s silver medal finish of 58.09, a season best. Hungary’s Petra Luteran used a final sprint to climb two spots in the final 100 metres for bronze, and a career best 58.35 seconds.

Chaves nabbed the top spot in the men’s 400m T37 in their “lucky” lane seven. The Brazilian ran the race of his life, setting a career best time of 50.74 in the lap around the track. Defending Paralympic champion neutral athlete Andrei Vdovin came from seventh place coming out of the final turn to make his way to silver, setting a season best in the process. Tunisia’s Amen Allah Tissaoui took bronze with a career best 51.32 second run. 

“I felt really tied but this a gold medal and so all the effort is welcome,” Chaves said.

Brazil’s Wanna Helena Brito Oliveira’s six attempts in the women’s shot put F32 were all over 7 metres, and all were far enough for a new championship record. Her gold medal securing third attempt of 7.74m was just 11 centimetres off from the world record, which she set in her home country in March. With the result, Brazil has earned 17 gold medals in Kobe, more than at any previous World Championships.

Neutral athlete Evgeniia Galaktionova set a season best 6.97 metres throw for the silver medal, over a metre further than Tunisia’s Maroua Ibrahmi, who took bronze. This was Ibrahmi’s second medal in Kobe.

Fifth gold for India

Sachin Sarjerao Khilari of India set a new Asian record in the men’s shot put F46. In his final attempt, his throw of 16.30m was enough for a gold medal, his second consecutive in the event. Canada’s Greg Stewart set a season best of 16.14m for the silver, and Croatia’s Luka Bakovic threw for a personal record 16.04m for bronze. 

China took the top two spots in the men’s 1500m T54 with Jin Hua taking home gold in a time of 2:54.85, followed by Dai Yunqiang, who finished with a season best. All but one of the finalists finished in a time faster than the previous championship record which was set in Lyon 2013.

China took the top two medals in the women’s 100m T53. Everyone on the podium finished within a tenth of a second of each other. Zhou Hongzhuan, a five-time Paralympic and world champion, finished on top with a season best 16.88 seconds, just 0.03 seconds faster than fellow countrywoman Gao Fang, and 0.07 seconds ahead of Turkey’s Hamide Dogangun. 

The defending world champion and world record holder Noelle Malkamaki of the United States stayed on top in the women’s shot put F46. Her second throw was enough to keep her title, but her final legal throw of 13.12m pushed her 0.87m ahead of the silver medalist Holly Robinson’s Oceania record throw.

Morocco’s Ayoub Sadni also defended himself in the men’s 400m T47. Despite being third after the initial turn, he took the lead down the far straightaway and never let up for a season best 47.30. Collen Mahlalela of South Africa turned heads with a silver medal finish in his first ever World Championships, setting a career record time of 48.66. Marufjon Murodulloev of Uzbekistan also set a personal record for the bronze medal, with a final time of 49.27.

First for Saudi

Saudi Arabia’s Adbulrahman Alqurashi, bronze medalist at the 2020 Paralympics, got his country’s first gold medal and first medal overall in Kobe in the men’s 100m T53. He streaked down the line in a time of 14.87 seconds for the victory. Ariosvaldo Fernandes da Silva set a season best time of 15.05 seconds for silver and Tunisia’s Mohamed Nidhal Khelifi took bronze 0.18 seconds later.

Colombia took the top two spots in the women’s 200m T38. Karen Tatiana Palomeque Moreno earned a medal of every kind in Kobe after setting an Americas record with a time of 25.89 seconds, only 0.11 seconds back of the world record. Darian Faisury Jimenez Sanchez set a season record time for second place. 

Wednesday's results, all medallists and records from Kobe 2024 are available here

With the sixth day of competition now complete, China still controls the medal board in both gold medals and overall medals won. China has won 18 gold medals and 48 overall, and is the only country to have double digit medals of all kinds. Brazil has 17 gold medals and 30 medals in total.

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