For the first time in history, Morocco hosts a World Para Athletics Grand Prix as the competition lands in Marrakech with the city receiving 359 athletes from 41 nations from 15 to 17 September (Thursday to Saturday).
Nearly 120 track and field medal events will take place at the Grand Stadium de Marrakech with plenty of local stars to watch.
Ten out of the 11 medals grabbed by Morocco at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games came in Para athletics. All these medallists are set to be in action at the Grand Prix, including their four Paralympic gold medallists – Zakariae Derhem, Abdeslam Hili, Ayoub Sadni, and El Amen Chentouf.
Derhem would be keen to defend his throne in the men’s shot put F33. In the men’s T12 track races, Hili runs the 400m event, in which he took gold in Tokyo by clocking 47.59, and also the 200m.
Sadni will aim at improving the time that made him Paralympic champion in the men’s 400m T47 running under 47.38. He also competes in the 100m and 200m in the same class.
Tokyo 2020 gold medallist in the men’s marathon T12, El Amen Chentouf is the only one who will be seen competing in a different event in Marrakech. He is set to run the men’s 5000m T12.
Back to Africa
This is also the first time Grand Prix season has two stops in Africa, as Tunisia hosted the Tunis GP last July. Tunisian athletes led the country to be the best African nation in the Tokyo 2020 medals standings with 11 podiums (four gold, five silver and two bronze medals, all in Para athletics).
In Marrakech, the team will be led by double Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Walid Ktila and Tlili Raoua. Ktila competes in the men’s 100m and 800m T34, in which he triumphed in the last Paralympics, and also in the 200m and 400m.
Raoua will try to keep her reign in the women’s shot put F41 and discus F41.
Namibian two-time Paralympic medallist Ananias Shikongo participates in the men’s T13 races – 100m, 200m, and 400m. Shikongo grabbed a gold at Rio 2016 and a silver at Tokyo 2020, both in the 100m.
Latin American visitors
Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador are among the Latin American nations that have travelled to Marrakech for the last GP of the season.
Colombia will have the participation of seven of its most outstanding athletes in sprint and throw events. One of them is Diego Meneses who took a bronze medal in the men’s javelin F34 at Tokyo 2020.
"We had a strong preparation, we have been training well and we are super prepared for this [Grand Prix]," said Meneses.
In shot put, Tokyo 2020 champion Francisca Mardones from Chile defends her throne in the women’s F54 while Brazil’s Wallace Santos will aim for the same in the men’s F55.
Asia will be represented by 10 countries (Brunei, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Singapore and the UAE) with the likes of Iran’s Hamed Amiri and Devendra Jhajharia from India among the Asian stars.
The Iranian thrower will be competing in three events, including the men’s javelin F54 that gave him gold at Tokyo 2020, while Jhajharia, the two-time Paralympic champion, will be in action in men’s javelin F46 event.
Europe will be represented by 14 delegations in Marrakech. Among the Paralympic champions travelling to Morocco are Poland’s Roza Kozakowska, the winner of the women’s club throw F32 at Tokyo 2020.
You can follow all the action from Marrakech 2022 GP on the World Para Athletics social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.