“It was just perfect team work that got that record – Kenny van Weeghel, Richard Chiassaro and I, we just went out for a fast time and it just happened."
Paralympic stars shone in Nottwil as world records continued to fall on the second day of competition (Saturday 3rd June) at the penultimate World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Switzerland.
Canadian Brent Lakatos notched up his fifth world record in 10 days with a phenomenal performance in the men’s 1,500m T53/54.
The 37-year-old, who set new 100m, 200m and 800m T53 world records in nearby Arbon last week, looked in terrific form as he powered round the track in Nottwil, just six weeks out from the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
Taking the lead after Dutchman Kenny van Weeghel set a fast early pace, the seven-time world champion crossed the line in 2:51.84 – taking more than two seconds off the mark set by Switzerland’s Marcel Hug’s in 2010.
“It was just perfect team work that got that record – Kenny van Weeghel, Richard Chiassaro and I, we just went out for a fast time and it just happened,” explained Lakatos, modest as ever.
“It’s great – I had no idea coming in to this weekend that I would be anywhere near this kind of shape, it’s just completely unexpected and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
In fact the time was so fast even Great Britain’s T54 wheelchair racer Chiassaro (2:52.11), who finished in second place, went below the previous world record too to set a new European record.
Great Britain’s Hannah Cockroft also secured her fifth world record since the Swiss series began in Arbon, this time smashing the women’s 1,500m T34 world record with a time of 3:50.22 – more than 11 seconds quicker than the previous time set by fellow Briton Melissa Nicolls three years ago.
The men’s 1,500m T34 world record also fell as Tunisia’s Walid Ktila took nearly two seconds off his previous best.
The 31-year-old, who topped the individual medals table at Doha 2015, finished well clear of the field as he crossed the line in 3:09.93.
“I’m very happy, I hope the next time I will go even better. I feel much stronger this year – last year I lost the 800m in Rio and so this year I am working so much harder so I hope I can win in London,” said Ktila, who also broke the 200m T34 world record 24 hours earlier.
Lakatos (14.34), Cockroft (17.40) and Ktila (14.97) also won their respective 100m races in the morning session.
Kuwaiti Ahmad Almutairi meanwhile equalled the world record in the 100m T33, a mark he set back in 2015, as he crossed the line in 16.46.
“I am very happy, I’m feeling confident now to go to London for the World Championships. I have one month more training and I hope to lower my world record again,” said the 23-year-old, who broke the 200m T33 world record on Friday (2 June).
After losing out in the 200m T51 on Friday, former Paralympic champion Toni Piispanen (20.68) turned the tables on his great rival Peter Genyn (20.86) over 100m.
The pair have built up a terrific rivalry in recent years and it was Belgian Genyn who came out on top at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as well as the 2015 World Championships.
But Piispanen still holds the 100m world record and with injury problems now behind him, next month’s World Championships promise to be as exciting as ever.
“Last year I had huge problems with my shoulder and I had to have surgery – so I knew before Rio that it wouldn’t be my success. I started training in January with my new shoulder and I’m very happy that it works so well,” explained Piispanen.
“I changed my coach too and we are doing things which work for me much better than previous years. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here and so I’m very happy we are going in the right direction.”
Finnish success continued as Leo-Pekka Tahti (13.74) took the win in the men’s 100m T54, 0.11 seconds outside his world record. After suffering recent elbow problems he was pleasantly surprised to lay down such a fast time.
He said: “So far things have been going well, I only have some small problems with my elbow, but I can still train and that’s the most important thing at the moment. It seems like I am in very good shape in the 100m – it is better than I expected as I hadn’t been able to train so much the last few weeks.”
Another Finn in winning form was world silver medallist Amanda Kotaja (16.67) – the 22-year-old won the women’s 100m T54 ahead of China’s Lihong Zou (16.74) and local favourite Manuela Schär (16.91).
Schär (3:24.72) later made amends with a strong performance in the women’s 1,500m T54, crossing the line ahead of Zou (3:26.33).
Rio 2016 double gold medallist Marlou van Rhijn (13.16) secured her second win in Nottwil this time in the 100m T43/44; Great Britain’s 200m T42 world and Paralympic champion Richard Whitehead (12.17) came through to win the men’s 100m T35-47 on points with South Africa’s 100m T37 Paralympic champion Charl du Toit (11.61) in second place.
Out in the field Canadian Becky Richter managed 14.52m in the women’s club throw while in the men’s javelin F31-57 Frenchman Marcelin Walico (F57) threw a new European record of 38.43m.
Full results can be found here.
The World Para Athletics Grand Prix continues on Monday 5 June – the final day of competition before the Grand Prix series heads to Berlin, Germany.