Kiara Rodriguez completed a clean sweep of three gold medals, Levi Hanusarson became the first athlete from the Faroe Islands to compete at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships and rising star Simone Kruger broke a world record on the third day of action in Nottwil, Switzerland.
USA’s Neyla Stary Schasfoort sliced 1.95 off her own world record from June 2018 in the women’s 400m T45 to lower it to 1:07.19.
The 16-year-old returned in the afternoon session for the long jump and she soared 5cm beyond Mariane Santos’ 2012 world mark with a leap of 4.29m.
Rodriguez soars to triple success
Ecuador’s Rodriguez had already won the women’s 100m and 200m T46 events before returning to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre for the long jump T46.
The 16-year-old soared to 5.55m to secure the third gold of the meet for herself and Ecuador, an unexpected feat for the delighted teenager.
“I think this gold medal will make all of Ecuador proud of me as well as my parents and friends,” she said.
Rodriguez hails from Guayaquil, the second-biggest city in the South American country, where she lives with her mother and brother.
She enjoyed volleyball before being introduced to Para sport four years ago, a move that has made a real difference to her life and instilled greater confidence.
“Doing Para sport is beautiful and I like it,” she said. “I started performing in a stronger way about a year ago when I went to a Grand Prix in the USA. I won my first silver medal there and since then it has been fruitful for my life.”
Rodriguez is coached by Bernardo Valdes who she describes as the most inspirational person in her life along with her mother.
Next up are the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, and then she has big plans for next year.
“I want to go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and take in again the world juniors. I am also looking forward to making Paris 2024.”
Hanusarson marks a moment in time as Faroe Islands debutant
Hanusarson marked his place in the history books when he competed in the men’s 100m RR1-RR3.
The 13-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, overcame his pre-race nerves to cross the line in 30.21 where he was met by his father Hanus Olsen, mother Poula Reinert Olsen, nine-year-old sister Ella and brother Pauli, four.
Father Hanus said: “It can’t be answered. I haven’t slept all night – well, a little - but I have been awake with nerves.
“He has been sleeping well but he said he didn’t want to do it. He was like that until the start line. I told him it always happens to the best.”
It all started when the Faroe Islands National Paralympic Committee contacted the family and lent Hanusarson a race runner.
Things soon developed for the boy who is competitive be it on the track or playing board games and cards.
He trains with his parents at a track near their Toftir home from a plan devised by coach Gunnar Sivertsen and not even leg surgery in January could deter him from appearing at Nottwil.
Reinert Olsen added: “He has one of the stand-up machines but he runs rather than walks: he is motivated, curious and competitive.
“He is interested in going to Tokyo but he has to keep motivated, he is 13.”
Kruger sets emphatic new world record
Kruger is one of the emerging stars of Para sport and was intent on the women’s discus F38 world record.
The 14-year-old realised her goal in emphatic style to set a new mark of 38.63m, 5.68m beyond Noelle Lenihan’s 2018 record, and was surrounded by people wanting selfies which she described as “amazing”.
The South African had little concern that it was not a medal event, saying: “It isn’t about medals for me: I throw against myself and try my best.”
Kruger hopes to compete at the World Championships in Dubai in November where the team for Tokyo 2020 will be selected.
She has memories of London 2012 – when she was seven – but now she is looking far into the future.
“We are looking forward to maybe going after Tokyo to Paris so maybe the journey goes longer and longer on.”
Her immediate aim though was to treat herself after training hard ahead of Nottwil under the watchful eye of her father Andries.
“I am going to ask my dad if I can go eat ice-cream because I wasn’t allowed to eat it in the last few weeks because of the competition so maybe ice cream would be nice. Caramel!”
More information, including start lists, results and visitor information, can be found on the event website.