Paris 23: Ghavelas and Debrunner shine on super Saturday

Greek adds world title to Paralympic gold, Swiss star takes fourth win as Lakatos gives Canada first triumph and Brazil closes gap to China on medals table 15 Jul 2023
A blindfolded athlete celebrating near an athlete with a guide bib
Athanasios Ghavelas set a new championship record clocking 10.93 in the men's 100m T11 final at Paris 23
ⒸAlexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
By Mary Barber | For World Para Athletics

Greece’s Athanasios Ghavelas denied France its first gold medal of the Paris 23 Para Athletics World Championships when he stormed to victory in the men’s 100m T11 on Saturday (15 July).

The hopes of the home fans had been pinned on Timothee Adolphe pulling off a dream result in the highly anticipated race of the evening at the Charlety Stadium. 

The crowd was cheering him on, but despite his excellent start off the blocks, the reigning Paralympic and European champion pulled away and hit the line first in 10.93, which equalled the championship record time he had set in the heats. 

It was a first world title for Ghavelas, who celebrated with his guide Dimitrios Chrysafis and his group of supporters in the stands. 

The race was among the highlights of the session that saw 15 titles contested. Switzerland’s wheelchair racing superstar Catherine Debrunner picked up her fourth gold and Mauritius’ picked up its third-ever championships medal when wheelchair racer Naomi Alphonse claimed her second in 24-hours and her teammate Yovanni Philippe his first, a bronze, in the 400m. Italy’s Martina Caironi also claimed her second gold in the long jump.

Adolphe, a silver medallist in the Dubai edition in 2019, claimed his second bronze of the home Worlds in the 100m T11. The 33-year-old, who came third in the 400m, was just beaten on the line by Namibia’s former Paralympic champion Ananias Shikongo, who finished in 11.11.

France’s other gold hopeful was reigning 400m T20 Paralympic champion, Charles-Antoine Kouakou. He was edged out of the medals in the race by Mauritius sprinter Yovanni Philippe, who took bronze to the jubilation of his fans in 47.48. Kouakou who came fourth was consoled with a European record in 47.59. 

Brazil’s Samuel Oliveira took the gold on his Worlds debut and set a championship record in 47.20. His teammate, the reigning world champion, Daniel Tavares, was 0.23 seconds behind in silver.

At the end of the race the pair draped themselves in the Brazilian flag. “It’s just wonderful to show that we honour this flag so much,” said Tavares. “It’s a good warm up, a good preparation, we have more next year [Paris 2020 Paralympic Games].

Second gold for Schaer, first for Caironi

There were five 400m finals during the evening. Philippe’s teammate Noemi Alphonse finished off a sensational Championships debut with a second bronze in the women’s 400m T54 – she came third in the 100m the day before. Switzerland’s Paralympic champion Manuela Schaer dominated the wheelchair race to win her second gold in 52.22 to add to her victory in the 800m and silvers in 1500m and 5000m. USA’s wheelchair world record holder Tatyana McFadden collected her 19th World Championships medal to claim silver.

In the T53 wheelchair race Schaer’s teammate Catherine Debrunner won her fourth gold of the Worlds when she stormed past Great Britain’s Samantha Kinghorn to finish in a championship record time of 50.16. Kinghorn, who beat Debrunner to silver in the 100m, clocked 52.53. China’s former Paralympic champion Hongzhuan Zhou was third.

“It was a really intense week but a great week,” said Debrunner. “The events went so great with four gold medals and one silver. I’m just so proud of the team and myself, for what we did over the last couple of years. I’m also happy that we managed to every day reset again and focus on the new event. That’s so amazing.”

In the other 400m finals, Japan’s Ryota Fukunaga won gold on his Championships debut when he edged out Namibia’s reigning world champion Johannes Nambala into second in the T13 final. Fukunaga set an Asian record in 47.79.

Tunisia’s Rouay Jebabli won his second gold, and set a season’s best, in the T12 category in 48.33. Colombia’s Yamil Acosta was second and Turkey’s Oguz Akbulut third.

Italy’s Martina Caironi upgraded the silver she won in the women’s 100m to gold in the long jump T63. The Paralympic silver medallist leapt 5.18m which put her into the lead and set a championship record. Switzerland’s Elena Kratter edged Australia’s Paralympic and world champion Vanessa Low into third.

Speaking after her win, Caironi said: “Today I won the gold medal in the long jump and the day before yesterday the silver in the 100m. So, I’m really happy that [the World Championships] went like this. 

“I’m so satisfied about all the work that I did this year and since last year. I’m so blessed for all the people that helped me during my journey. [But] it’s not finished, it’s just the beginning because next year we have Kobe [World Championships] and Paris 2024.”

Also celebrating was Canada’s Brent Lakatos, who won his 12th World Championships title of his career in the 800m T53. The 43-year-old, who has also won two silvers in 400m and 1500m in Paris, fought off a challenge from Thailand’s Paralympic champion Pongsakorn Paeyo to surge ahead on the line in 1:34.31, which set a new championship record. Paeyo’s silver was his third medal this week, he has also won two golds. USA’s Brian Siemann came third.

Lakatos spoke later about his win and also about his wife, Stef Reid, a former Para athletics long jump world champion, who has been commentating on the Paris 23 Worlds. “I love her commentary,” he said. “She’s been very generous and I’m definitely going to celebrate this one. It’s been a lot of silvers in a row, finally the streak is broken.”

More from Durand

Out on the field, Great Britain’s Paralympic champion Daniel Pembroke won gold in the men’s javelin F13 and set a European record with his massive throw of 70.50m. It was seven metres ahead of nearest rival, Iran’s Ali Pirouj’s throw of 63.70m. Cuba’s Ulicer Aguilera Cruz was third.

Algeria’s women shot putters won their second gold of the day. Paralympic champion Asmahane Boudjadar claimed the title in the F33 with her throw of 7.06m. Australia’s Maria Strong came second with Poland’s Joanna Oleksiuk third. In the morning session Boudjadar’s teammate Safia Djelal secured gold in the F57 category.

In the men’s shot put F35 final, Paralympic and world champion Khusniddin Norbekov retained his titled in a season’s best 6.78m. Argentina’s Hernan Urra was second and China’s Xinhan Fu third.

Elsewhere on the field, there was a one-two in the men’s discus F64. David Blair, the silver medallist in Dubai in 2019, beat his teammate and Paralympic and world champion, Jeremy Campbell, by just three centimetres to take the gold. They finished on 60.36 and 60.33, respectively. Great Britain’s Dan Greaves took the bronze. 

Back on the track, Cuban legend Omara Durand added another gold medal to her haul in the women’s 100m T12. The now 12-time world, eight-time Paralympic and 11-time ParaPan champion shot out of the blocks with her guide Yuniol Kindelan and surged to the line in 11.62. It was a race for second and third, which was won by Venezuela’s Alejandra Perez Lopez, who took silver in the 400m. Spain’s Nagore Folgodo Garcia was third.

Thailand’s Athiwat Paeng-Nue took gold in the men’s 100m T54 after equalling Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tahti's world record from London 2012 in the heats earlier in the evening (13.63). Tahti was in silver, and China’s Hu Yang took bronze.

New Zealand’s Paralympic and world silver medallist Danielle Aitchison upgraded to gold in the women’s 200m T36 and set an Oceania record in 28.50. Australia’s Mali Lovell took silver on her debut Championships. Germany’s Nicole Nicoleitzik was third.

The Paris 23 World Championships can be followed live on the World Para Athletics website and Facebook page with geo-blocking restriction in certain territories. To know where to watch click here.

Complete schedule, results, medallists and records are available here.