Uzbekistan secured their first Para athletics gold medal of Rio 2016 in terrific style as Khusniddin Norbekov smashed the discus F37 world record on the opening day of competition (Thursday 9 September) in the Olympic Stadium.
The 29-year-old, who won world gold last October, managed 59.75m with his second attempt to add 3.94m on to the previous mark set by China’s Dong Xia at London 2012.
Lithuania’s Mindaugas Bilius (53.50m) won silver, while bronze went to Dong Xia (52.15m).
Germany won their first Para athletics gold courtesy of world silver medallist Niko Kappel (13.57m) in the men’s shot put F41.
The 21-year-old turned the tables on the man who beat him to gold at last year’s World Championships, Poland’s Bartosz Tyszkowski (13.56m) – winning by just one centimetre.
“I’m so happy; it was an unbelievable feeling of joy,” said Kappel, who won with a personal best in the penultimate round. “I’m so pleased. I would never have thought that in my first Paralympic Games everything would be such a big success.
“When I came into that ring I immediately felt that, ‘I like it here, this is my ring, I own it and I’m going to do something great today’. It was just perfect for me.
“Afterwards, when I read that it said ‘Rio 2016’ on the floor I got so happy,” said Kappel, who kissed the ground in delight.
Mexico’s Angeles Ortiz Hernandez safely retained her Paralympic title with a win in the shot put F57. The 43-year-old threw a season’s best 10.94m in the third round, while Algerian duo Nassima Saifi (10.77m) and Nadia Medjmedj (9.92m) won silver and bronze respectively. Medjmedj’s best throw was also a new world record for in the F56 class.
New Zealand’s Anna Grimaldi (5.62m) added 21cms on to her personal best as she clinched gold in the women’s long jump T47 with her final attempt.
The 19-year-old beat a tough field including Cuba’s world silver medallist Yunidis Castillo (5.59m) and Australia’s world champion Carlee Beattie (5.57m) who won silver and bronze respectively.
China’s Lisha Huang won the only track final of Thursday´s evening session, securing her third consecutive 100m T53 Paralympic title in convincing style.
The three-time world champion, who set a new world record in the heats earlier in the day, was quickly out of the blocks and in to an early lead, and she proved too good for her rivals as she held on to win in 16.28.
“I feel proud and really happy to have this gold and achieve this glory for my country. I really want to thank my country, my coach and my teammate for achieving this result,” said Huang.
Hongzhuan Zhou joined her teammate on the podium, winning silver in 16.51, while bronze went to Australia’s Angie Ballard (16.59).
Great Britain’s defending champion Jonnie Peacock lay down his marker ahead of the men’s 100m T44 final on Friday as he stormed home in a new T44 Paralympic record of 10.81 in the first of Thursday’s heats.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more, it felt relatively easy. I know I'm in great form coming here,” said the 23-year-old.
“That’s what this year is about. Every month goes by, the times come down. Tomorrow I hope to go a lot faster than that.”
There was a surprise in the second heat as New Zealander Liam Malone came through in the closing stages to take the win in a new T43 Paralympic record 10.90, a massive personal best for the 22-year-old who finished fifth at last year’s World Championships.
“I didn’t expect that, it’s just that one legs goes in front of the other and I just tried to get that as fast as possible, and eventually I came up with my personal best,” admitted Malone.
“I had no idea what to expect before this race. My goal has been from day one to run under 11 seconds and I just did it so I'm over the moon.”
The USA’s Parapan Am champion Jarryd Wallace (11.02) finished behind Malone and goes through to the final as the third fastest qualifier. Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, 200m T44 Paralympic champion from four years ago, failed to qualify.
Brazil’s reigning world champion and world record holder Daniel Martins (48.70) gave the crowd plenty to cheer about as he sprinted home to win the first heat of the men’s 400m T20, while Venezuela’s Luis Arturo Paiva (48.43) set a new personal best to win the second heat and lead the qualifiers in to Friday’s (9 September) final.
China’s world silver medallist Qichao Sun (49.28) leads the way through to the final of the men’s 400m T12 after winning the second semi-final on Friday evening. Portugal’s world champion Luis Goncalves (49.92) punched the air with delight as he pipped South Africa’s Hilton Langenhoven to the line in the first semi-final. A thrilling battle is on the cards in Friday evening’s final.
The women’s 100m T54 final will be another track dual to look forward to if Thursday’s heats are anything to go by. China’s world champion Wenjun Liu (16.00) left nothing to chance as she stormed home with a season’s best to win the first heat ahead of US star Tatyana McFadden (16.52).
Ireland’s Jason Smyth (10.76), the world’s fastest Paralympian, will be hoping the men’s 100m T13 final will be more of a formality. The 29-year-old is looking to secure his third consecutive 100m T13 title on Friday (9 September) and he heads to Friday’s final as the fastest qualifier.
Namibia’s Johannes Nambala (10.81) and Australia’s Chad Perris (10.91) are amongst those hoping to upset Smyth’s plans.
Great Britain’s Georgie Hermitage (13.39) is competing in her first Paralympic Games, but the 27-year-old looked full of confidence as she equalled her world record in the heats of the 100m T37. Defending champion Mandy Francois-Elie (13.69) of France won the first heat.
Another Briton looking to secure her first Paralympic title is 19-year-old Sophie Hahn, who won her 100m T38 heat in 12.62, just 0.02 seconds off her own world record.
With two world titles also to her name Hahn heads to Friday’s final as a key favourite for gold, but she will have to watch out for Brazil’s Parapan Am Games champion Veronica Hipolito (12.84), winner of the first heat – much to the delight of the home crowd.
Argentina’s world silver medallist Yanina Martinez (14.50) was the fastest of the qualifiers through to the final of the women’s 100m T36, which takes place on Friday.