"It’s always fun to come out to Nottwil and race because you know it’s possible to achieve something you have never achieved before.”
Nottwil, Switzerland will stage the first World Para Athletics Junior Championships this week, and if past events at the popular track are anything to go by, we’re in for an exciting competition.
The Swiss Paraplegics Centre, located on the shores of the scenic Lake Sempach, contains Nottwil’s Sport Arena, which has hosted the World Para Athletics Grand Prix series for four years.
Some of the best Paralympic athletes have competed and broken records in Nottwil, proving it to be one of the fastest tracks in the world.
Canada’s Rio 2016 gold medallist Brent Lakatos set three world records on this track. In 2014, he did so in the men’s 100m T53 with a time of 14.17 at the Grand Prix. Lakatos (25.27) followed that up with another world record in the 200m T53.
Early this year, he made history again in Nottwil by setting a third world record (2:51.84) in the men’s 1,500m T53/54.
“The track is a hard and smooth Mondo [surface] which makes it fast,” explained Lakatos. “But also athletes taper for the competition because they know it is a good place to race the fastest people in the world.
“[From Nottwil] I remember the delicious breakfast, and the beautiful views. I remember racing 30 degree weather and racing in snow. I remember feeling elation when winning a race or setting a world record and disappointment when not meeting qualifying times.”
The Netherlands’ three-time Paralympic champion Marlou van Rhijn also shone on the Swiss track, setting four world records over three years.
In 2014, she clocked 1:00.78 in the women’s 400m T43 at the Grand Prix. Van Rhijn set two more world records the following year in the 100m (12.82) and 200m (25.66) T43. The fourth came again in the 100m T43, in 2016, with a time of 12.79.
“Nottwil is one of the fastest tracks in Europe and in the right conditions everything is possible,” she said. “I think I ran most of my world records there so it’s always fun to come out to Nottwil and race because you know it’s possible to achieve something you have never achieved before.”
More information about the World Para Athletics Junior Championships can be found on Nottwil 2017’s website.