Ireland’s Niamh McCarthy smashed the European record in the women’s discus F41 on Friday (18 May), the opening day of the Rieti Grand Prix in Italy, making clear her intentions three months out from the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships.
The 24-year-old, who won world silver last year to go with the Paralympic silver medal she won at Rio 2016, added nearly 1.5 metres on to her previous best with her fourth-round effort of 28.51m.
McCarthy last broke the regional record at the Grosseto European Championships two years ago when she finished second behind F40 Polish thrower Renata Sliwinska. But the Cork Para athlete will no doubt be hoping her impressive form will continue and help propel her to a first major championship title this summer.
Sweden’s double European champion Per Jonsson enjoyed a convincing win in the men’s long jump T13, leaping 6.50m – fifth furthest in the world this year and the second best European behind Spain’s Ivan Cano Blanco.
Fellow Swede Joel Jansson (45.33m) took the win in the men’s javelin F13, while Croatia’s F55 thrower Sven Maretic (21.56m) won the men’s seated javelin throw competition (F52-57) and Czech Miroslava Obrova (18.46m) won the women’s event.
Luxembourg’s Tom Habscheid (46.05m) won the men’s discus F63.
Meanwhile in the day’s shot put competitions, wins went to Greece’s Apostolos Charitonidis (12.80m) in the men’s F35-38 and Czech Eva Datinska (10.86m) in the women’s equivalent.
It was not all about the European stars of track and field however.
South Africa’s Hilton Langenhoven notched up two wins in Rieti, starting with a convincing win in the long jump T12.
The 34-year-old, who won Paralympic gold in 2016, twice leapt 6.81m before reaching 6.87m in the fourth round to seal victory ahead of Malaysia’s Mohamad Ishak (6.56m), silver medallist at the 2014 Asian Para Games. Langenhoven went on to win the 400m T12 in 52.01 seconds later in the session.
Italy’s T44 jumper Marco Cicchetti (6.94m) won the men’s long jump T44-47/63/64 ahead of South Africa’s upcoming talent Mpumelelo Mhlongo (6.66m).
Colombia’s Mauricio Valencia threw 36.59m to take the win in the men’s discus F32-34.
There was further success for Colombia out on the track as world silver medallist Dixon Hooker Velasquez (54.10) saw off South Africa’s Union Sekailwe (55.61) to win the men’s 400m T36-38.
Italy’s Giandomenico Sartor (51.66) took the tape in the men’s 400m for wheelchair racers, with Finland’s multiple European champion Henry Manni (55.28) the fastest of the T34 class.
Ukraine’s Yulia Shuliar (1:00.47) won the women’s 400m T20; Turkey’s teenage talent Mushine Gezer (1:03.80) took the tape in the second of the two heats, while the men’s race was won by Malaysia’s Nasharuddin Mohd (49.62).
In the day’s 1,500m races, Ireland’s European bronze medallist Greta Streimikyte (4:43.42) took the win in the women’s T11-13, and her teammate F38 Para athlete David Leavy (4:25.35) came out in top in his race.
Great Britain’s Steve Morris (3:59.76) won the men’s 1,500m T20 while Ukraine’s world silver medallist Lludmyla Danylina (4:48.65) saw of Hungarian twins Bernadett and Ilona Biacsi as well as Gezer to take the win in the women’s T20.
The Rieti Grand Prix continues on Saturday 19 May. Full results can be found here.