Tunisia’s Walid Ktila clinched his fourth world title at the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 on Friday (21 July), repeating his remarkable performance from two years ago.
The 31-year-old was unbeatable at the Doha 2015 World Championships and, like the USA’s Tatyana McFadden, has proved invincible at London 2017 winning all four of his races.
With wins in the 100m, 400m and 800m T34 already in the bag, victory in the 200m proved straight forward for Ktila. The multiple world record holder powered out the blocks and round the bend in the lead, sealing the win with a new championship record of 27.14.
"It's a great win because the conditions were difficult today. There was a strong wind. The final stage of the race was very tough. I think my speed at the end was very important,” said Ktila.
Australia’s former world and Paralympic champion Evan O’Hanlon could not contain his joy after winning a thrilling 100m T38, ripping off his vest and punching the air after pipping China’s defending champion Jianwen Hu to the line.
O’Hanlon, who lost his Paralympic title to Hu last year, had a great start but with 20m to go it looked like Hu just had the edge. But the Sydney-based sprinter lunged over the line and was awarded first place, although both athletes clocked 11.07 seconds.
“It means so much to me to come back after winning silver in Rio. To be back in London, where I won my two medals in world record time and to beat the guy who broke my world record is amazing. Coming to these championships, I think I have been under the biggest pressure I have ever been,” said O’Hanlon.
Earlier, fellow Australian James Turner (54.27) left nothing on the track as he won the men’s 400m T36 to add to the 200m title he claimed on Monday (17 July).
The 21-year-old went out hard for the first 200m and paid the price down the home straight as his legs visibly tired, but his lead was big enough to take the win with a new Oceania record.
Morocco won two gold medals out on the track including a new world record for defending champion Mohamed Amguoun in the men’s 400m T13.
The 28-year-old, who won Paralympic gold last year, outclassed his rivals as his long elegant stride carried him to the line in 46.92 – shaving 0.23 seconds off the time he set at Rio 2016.
“To be honest, I was ready to go even faster. But I felt a bit of headwind, especially in the curves so it slowed me down. I was hoping to go under 46 seconds,” said Amguoun.
“The key thing to break the world record is to have good training. I have a dedicated coach and we prepare in Morocco. My biggest motivation is just to run fast times. Athletics is in our hearts; my older brother who brought me to athletics is also an athlete. My family supports me a lot and they are also my big motivation.”
Fellow Moroccan Mahdi Afri (22.39) notched up his second gold of the championships with an impressive win in the men’s 200m T12. The 21-year-old has already won the 400m and has the 100m T12 still to come and he lapped up the cheers from the crowd on his well-deserved lap of honour.
“Thank God for the victory - I cannot put into words how I feel. The end of the race was the most difficult but I was confident that I had the stamina to win it,” said Afri.
Afri may return home a happy man but the heartache continues for Frenchman Timothée Adolphe, who missed out on a medal in the 400m T11 on Tuesday (18 July) after crashing to the ground in the last five metres and sliding across the line behind his guide.
The 27-year-old looked to have secured gold in the 200m T11 ahead of US world record holder David Brown but he dipped too soon and crossed the line behind his guide, which meant he was disqualified yet again. China’s Zetan Fan (23.28) was awarded gold and Brown (23.35), whose guide Jerome Avery hit the deck just before the finish, won silver.
Swiss star Marcel Hug safely won the re-run of the men’s 800m T54. The race was re-scheduled after a crash in the original final.
"It wasn't easy to race twice,” said Hug, who still has the 5,000m T54 to come. “I am really happy that I won again. It was a decision of the jury and I respect and accept it. It's fair for the athletes who crashed. Now I feel a mixture of relief, happiness and pride.”
Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox dominated the women’s 400m T38 from start to finish, and the win went someway to make up for her disappointment losing out to teammate Sophie Hahn in the 200m earlier in the week.
“I’m absolutely shattered. That was a very painful run but it meant a lot,” said the Paralympic champion. “I may have got carried away in the first 200m. I knew the last 100m would kill me but I got through and a win is a win.
“This makes up a bit for the 200m. That was just lack of races. But when you don’t do yourself justice it’s disappointing. I was a little bit gutted but I worked out the next steps and it came together today.”
Kenya’s Samwel Kimani (4:11.54) secured his second medal of London 2017 with a win in the 1,500m T11, while Belgium’s double Paralympic champion Peter Genyn (21.10) also clinched his second London 2017 title, powering home to win the 100m T51 to add to his victory over one lap.
Ukraine has had a fruitful World Championships so far – they sit fourth in the medals table - and their success continued with three more gold medals out in the field.
Multiple world and Paralympic champion Oksana Zubkovska (6.02m) continued her domination of the long jump T12, finishing nearly 50cm clear of her rivals – albeit also more than 50cm shy of the world record she set at the London 2012 Games.
“I was looking forward to this competition because I did so well in London in 2012, still remembering my 6.60 jump,” said Zubkovska. “Therefore, I am very happy I managed to jump over six metres again tonight despite the fact that I was not 100 percent satisfied with the technique.”
Mariia Pomazan finished runner-up to China’s Jun Wang at the Rio 2016 Games but she rose to the top this time, retaining her shot put F35 with a best of 12.63m as Wang (12.24m) had to settle for silver this time.
Bronze medallist in Doha, Qatar two years ago, Orysia Ilchyna (38.78m) finally reached the top of the podium with a win in the discus F12, and she was understandably delighted.
“I cannot describe my feelings; there are no proper words for that. This is the most important moment in my career,” said the 27-year-old.
Latvia’s Diana Dadzite completed her hat trick of golds with a win in the women’s discus F55. The 31-year-old, who won bronze in the discus two years ago, threw a personal best of 23.18m in the second round.
Germany’s Frederike Koleiski won the women’s shot put F44 with her final attempt of the night, throwing a season’s best 11.53m to get the better of Chinese duo Juan Yao (11.48m) and Yue Yang (11.32m).
“At first my throwing was horrible. I thought, ‘What the hell is happening?’ because in training I was so much better. My coach and team were screaming at me because they know I can do so much better,” said Koleiski.
“But then my last throw was amazing. At last I showed what I can do. It was so amazing to throw better than the two Chinese girls for the first time, and in the last round. That was perfect.
Iran’s Alireza Mokhtari Hemami (8.35m) set a new Asian record to win the shout put F53, while China added their 22nd gold of the championships thanks to defending champion Guangxu Shang who bettered his own championship record to win the long jump T37 with his second-round effort of 6.58m.
"When I came to London for the 2012 Paralympics, I got a silver, so I came here for revenge,” explained Shang. “I was really nervous beforehand and I was thinking 'What if I lose here?', but once I got going on the runway I felt more relaxed and it was okay.”
The World Para Athletics Championships will run through to 23 July. More than 1,150 athletes from 90 countries are competing in 202 medal events.
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