The fifth World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the year takes place in Nottwil, Switzerland this weekend (25 – 27 May) as the countdown continues to the two major championships of 2018 – the European Championships and the Asian Para Games.
Nearly 300 Para athletes from 40 countries will descend on the Swiss lakeside town and to the track which has seen more than 30 records broken in the past three years.
Here are some of the events to look out for:
Multiple Paralympic and world champion Hannah Cockroft heads up the women’s T34 sprints, while in the women’s 100m T54 there is a packed field including Finland’s London 2017 champion Amanda Kotaja and world bronze medallist Hannah McFadden of the USA.
The Netherlands’ Fleur Jong goes in the 100m T62 and Belgian Gitte Haenen, who set a new 400m T42 world record last year in her first race over one lap, takes on the 100m and 400m T63.
One of Para athletics’ biggest rivalries is in the men’s T51 class, where Belgium’s world and Paralympic champion Peter Genyn goes head-to-head with Finland’s former world and Paralympic champion, Toni Piispanen over 100m and 200m. Genyn broke Piispanen’s 100m world record earlier this month; Piispanen is yet to race this season but claims to be in terrific form having now fully recovered from shoulder surgery in late 2016. Watch out too for Algeria’s Mohamed Berrahal, who is always a big threat.
The three medallists from the men’s 100m and 200m T34 at London 2017 line up in Nottwil – with Tunisia’s Walid Ktila leading the way. Australia’s Rheed McCracken and the UAE’s Mohamed Alhammadi won world silver and bronze in the 100m, reversing their order over 200m. Don’t dismiss another Finn, Henry Manni, who won in Rieti, Italy, last weekend as is gearing up for the defence of his European titles in August.
Colombia’s Dixon Hooker Velasquez also arrives from Reiti where he enjoyed multiple wins – he will be the man to beat in the men’s T38 sprints.
Australia’s Madison de Rozario will be hoping to add to her outstanding season which has included 1,500m T54 and marathon gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and victory in the London Marathon World Cup.
The 24-year-old races in the 800m T53 as well as the 1,500m and 5,000m T54 (where T53 and T54 race together). In the two longer distances she will have the likes of local favourite Manuela Schaer and the USA’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden to contend with.
De Rozario’s partner Josh George races in the men’s 800m T53 against the likes of Thailand’s Paralympic champion Pongsakorn Paeyo.
The men’s 800m T54 is bursting with talent – world and Paralympic champion Marcel Hug is joined by the Netherland’s Kenny van Weeghel; Thai duo Rawat Tana and Saichon Konjen; Tunisia’s in-form Yassine Gharbi; Briton Richard Chiassaro; Germany’s Alhassane Balde; the USA’s up-and-coming talent Daniel Romanchuk; Frenchman Julien Casoli and a strong Japanese group led by Tomoki Susuki. It’s a similar case for the hotly anticipated men’s 1,500m T54 – minus Chiassaro – and with the addition of Canada’s star wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos.
The Dutch team has a strong presence in the field events – Paralympic and world silver medallist Ronald Hertog competes in the long jump T64; Jelmas Bos in the long jump T37; Paralympic silver medallist Marlene van Gansewinkel in the women’s long jump T64 and Paralympic bronze medallist Lara Baars in the women’s shot put and discus F40.
Colombia’s Paralympic javelin F34 champion Mauricio Valencia won all three of his field events in Rieti last week; he throws the shot put, javelin and discus in Nottwil too and faces tough competition from Morocco’s Paralympic shot put F34 champion Azeddine Nouiri.
Luxembourg’s world and European silver medallist Tom Habscheid (shot put and javelin F63), Germany’s Thomas Ulbricht (javelin F12) and Poland’s former world champion Tomasz Paulinski (shot put and discus F35) are also in action.