Nottwil to provide perfect Grand Prix season’s curtain raiser

Home and international stars eye world records as 2023 GP wraps up in Switzerland from 25 to 27 May 24 May 2023
A female wheelchair racer celebrating ahead of two other racers
Paralympic champion Catherine Debrunner will be returning to the track she produced one of her most amazing performances
ⒸBuda Mendes/Getty Images
By Jeroen Adriaanse I For World Para Athletics

The Nottwil World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Switzerland is set to act as the perfect curtain raiser to the Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships. A star-studded field of 474 athletes, including local heroes Catherine Debrunner, Marcel Hug and Manuela Schaer, will be looking to end the GP season on a high. 

What do we know going into Nottwil?

The world’s elite athletes will take to the starting line in the final Grand Prix of the season. It is one of the fastest athletics track out there, as continent and world records are regularly broken in the Stacherholz stadium.

The upcoming meeting will probably be no different. The three-day event will be held from Thursday to Saturday (25-27 May).

Who to watch out for from the hosts?

Athletes from 59 countries will be competing on the Swiss track famous for being the home of some of the world’s best wheelchair racers.

While multiple world and Paralympic medallists Hug and Schaer of Switzerland normally find themselves in the limelight, Nottwil 2022 saw another Swiss speedster joining the national elite. 

Catherine Debrunner delighted the home crowd with a whopping four world records at last year’s GP in Nottwil, as the now 28-year-old triumphed in the women’s 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T53. 

Are the conditions such that she could shatter one of her world records again? Debrunner is now the Laureus Awards winner and determined to answer this question unequivocally. But she will face tough competition from Bermuda’s Jessica Cooper Lewis and Hamide Dogangun of Turkey amongst others this time around.

In the men’s field, Hug also set a new world record on home soil last year. The six-time Paralympic champion won the 1500m T53 in 2:47.82. His staggering time still stands, but having won both the Boston and London Marathon this year, he arrives in top form and will relish the opportunity to cut his own world record once more.

Who else are competing?

Britain’s Hannah Cockroft has already put her rivals on notice by going under 29 seconds for the first time in the Women’s 200m T34 to break her own world record at the Swiss National Championships last weekend. The seven-time Paralympic champion won the race in 28.90 seconds. Cockroft also holds T34 world records in the 100m, 400m, 800m and 1500m 

And not only the Swiss have a highly talented team. The Dutch outlet travels with Fleur Jong to the mountainous country. She is the world record holder and Paralympic champion in the Women’s Long Jump T64 and hopes to reach new heights in Nottwil. 

Meanwhile, in the throwing events, the six-time Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili of Tunisia has her sights firmly set on topping the podium once again. 

Athanasios Ghavelas, Paralympic champion in the men’s 100m T11 with a world record time of 10.82, is also scheduled to compete in the 100m race. The Greek speed sensation will go head-to-head with Ananias Shikongo of Namibia across the distance.

All eyes will also be on Salum Kashafali in the T12 sprint distances. The 29-year-old spent his childhood in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo before escaping to Norway. At Tokyo 2020, Kashafali clocked the quickest 100m time (10.43) in Paralympic Games history; he now wants to leave a mark in Nottwil. 

What happened last time?

With a series of impressive performance, some familiar faces delivered on the Grand Prix stage in Jesolo, Italy only two weeks ago. Rolling back the years, Germany’s Markus Rehm and Italy’s Martina Caironi both returned to form as we move closer to the Paris 2023 World Championships in July.

The major European names will look to reassert themselves as one of the medal favourites for the upcoming World Championships, but first the GP in Nottwill is going to wrap up the GP season this weekend.

How can I follow?

The three days of Nottwil 2023 will be streamed live here.
Make sure you keep an eye on our social media channels as well - @paraathletics - where we will be bringing you coverage of the big moments. 

What is next?

Following the end of the GP season in Nottwil, the athletes will shift their attention to the most prestigious tournament of the year, the Paris 23 World Championships.

The Championships programme features 171 medal events (93 in the men’s category, 77 in the women’s category and 1 in the mixed category) and will take place at the Charlety Stadium from 8 to 17 July.