Para athletics season in review: distance events

Find out some of the highlights that lit up the world of Para athletics in 2016. 01 Dec 2016
Marcel Hug, Samwel Kimani, Tatyana McFadden, El Amin Chentouf and Prawat Wahoram.

Marcel Hug, Samwel Kimani, Tatyana McFadden, El Amin Chentouf and Prawat Wahoram.

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Distance racing in 2016 provided many spectacular memories – here are some of the highlights as we round off our review of the top headlines from the 2016 season.

1. McFadden makes it four Grand Slams in a row

US star Tatyana McFadden continued her stranglehold over the marathon majors with wins in Boston (USA), London (Great Britain), Chicago (USA) and New York (USA) yet again in 2016 – the fourth time she has won all four titles in one year and the first time this feat has been achieved by any athlete.

2. Hug dominates marathon racing…

Swiss racer Marcel Hug also secured the marathon Grand Slam – the 30-year-old was in terrific form this year over the longer distances, winning the Paralympic title at Rio 2016 as well - one of a number of thrilling sprint finishes with Australian Kurt Fearnley.

3. …while Wahoram battles for supremacy on the track

Hug may have dominated marathon racing but on the track it was Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram who clinched Paralympic gold in the distance events. The 35-year-old won the 1,500m and 5,000m T54 at Rio 2016. Earlier in the season he gave an indication of his form finishing a close second over both distances at the Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland.

4. First Abbott World Marathon Majors for wheelchair racers

2016 also marked the first year the Abbott World Marathon Majors series included wheelchair racers, with points up for grabs at eight marathons throughout the series, which finishes in Boston in 2017. Hug already has the men’s number one spot sewn up and McFadden leads the women's.

5. Baka fast over 1,500m

Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka hit the headlines at Rio 2016 when he won gold in the men’s 1,500m T13 with a remarkable sprint finish which saw him cross the line in a world record 3:48.29. In fact the top four competitors all went under the 3:50 mark - faster than the time it took for Matt Centrowitz to win Olympic gold four weeks earlier.

6. Brannigan the star of T20 running

The USA’s Michael Brannigan is undoubtedly the man to beat in the men’s T20 middle distance events, after impressive performances at the US Paralympic Trials, July’s Berlin Grand Prix and of course the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The 20-year-old dominated the 1,500m on each occasion and will be one to watch in 2017.

7. Chentouf continues to impress

Moroccan distance runner El Amin Chentouf clinched his first Paralympic marathon title with a win in the T12 event in Rio as well as silver in the 5,000m T13. The 35-year-old won the world marathon title in 2015 and his performances in Brazil cemented his place as one of the finest visually impaired distance runners in the world.

8. Kenyans make their mark

Kenyan ambitions were made clear at the start of the season when Samwel Kimani and Wilson Bii took the top two spots in the 1,500m T11 at the Dubai Grand Prix. Kimani went on to win the 5,000m a day later and finished the year at the top of the rankings with Paralympic gold over 1,500m and 5,000m, as Bii clinched 5,000m T11 bronze. Compatriot Henry Kirwa won the 5,000m T13 title and 1,500m T13 bronze; Nancy Koech won the women’s 1,500m T11 silver.

9. World records fall

World records in distance events don’t come along that often as tactics take precedence, but China’s Jin Zheng certainly made her marathon major debut count, setting a new T11 world record as she won the Marathon World Cup in London, Great Britain, in April knocking an amazing 13 minutes off the previous best. She broke the 1,500m T11 world record at Rio 2016 too.

10. Two-lap heroes

Australia’s James Turner remarkable race to 800m T36 gold at Rio 2016 was also a new world record. The 20-year-old finished ahead of British world champion Paul Blake to win his first Paralympic title. Great Britain’s Hannah Cockroft proved unbeatable over 800m as she won the Paralympic 800m T34 having set a new world record a month earlier. The UAE’s Mohamed Hammadi ended Tunisian Walid Ktila’s dominance in men’s T34 major events with a win over two laps at Rio 2016.