Paris 23: Sunday best for Carabin, Legnante and Rodriguez

Belgian wheelchair racer bags second gold in his Worlds debut, Italian throwing legend extends her legacy and Ecuadorian jumper smashes world record 16 Jul 2023
A male wheelchair racer in a Para athletics competition
Belgium's Maxime Carabin crossing the finish line after the triumph in the men's 100m T52 at the Charlety Stadium
ⒸAlexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
By Mary Barber | For World Para Athletics

Belgium’s Maxime Carabin meteoric rise in wheelchair racing continued with his second gold medal of the Paris 23 World Athletics Championships in the men’s 100m T52 on Sunday (16 July).

Just a year after he made his international debut, the 22-year-old has become the face of the T52 class, winning major titles and breaking world and European records. And with his latest victory at the Charlety Stadium he will be the one to watch at the Paralympic Games in the French capital next year.

Carabin’s outstanding performance on the track was among the highlights of the morning session on day nine where five titles were decided. There was also a second gold for Ecuador’s Kiara Rodriguez, who set a world record in the women’s long jump, and Italy’s world champion Assunta Legnante winning her fifth consecutive gold in women’s shot put.

The Belgian was a class apart in the men’s 100m finishing in the second fastest time-ever in a World Championships, in 16.90, which was just outside the world record. 

The talented field of wheelchair athletes had got off to a good start but as the race progressed, they could not match the top speed of Carabin, who finished nearly a second ahead of his nearest rival, Switzerland’s Fabian Blum in 17.98. Mexico’s Paralympic and world bronze medallist Leonardo De Jesus was third.

The win topped off a brilliant week for Carabin’s at his first Worlds – he also won gold and broke the world record in the 400m. The former handballer, who had an accident in 2019, was congratulated after his first win by the Belgian Royal family. His status as a rapidly rising star of Para sport has also caught the attention of his country’s media, which has been closely following his progress.

“We came to get the double and we did it. Yesterday's race [the heats] was quite disappointing, but today I gave it my all, I prepared better and the result was good. Yesterday after the race and this morning during the warm-up, we focused on my start. Once the race is on I manage to pick up speed quite well, but the start is my weak point so it's a satisfaction to see that the work has paid off,” Carabin said.

Incredible Kiara

Out on the field, Ecuador’s Kiara Rodriguez was also blazing a trail in the women’s long jump T47. The 20-year-old landed a 6.23m jump in the third round to break the world record and propel her into the gold medal position. It was the reigning world champion’s second title of the week – she also won the 100m T47.

The top of the leaderboard had changed hands several times in earlier rounds between Rodriguez with New Zealand’s two-time Paralympic champion Anna Grimaldi, who beat her at Tokyo 2020 into silver. The tables were turned, and the 26-year-old came second with a lifetime best jump of 5.96m. It was her second medal in Paris - she also won bronze in 100m T47 in Paris. USA’s Taleah Williams in third (5.65m).

It was also a good morning for Italy’s Assunta Legnante who won her fifth consecutive World Championships shot put gold F12. The two-time Paralympic champion roared to victory wearing her distinctive lion eye mask in 15.55m. She was also on top of the podium in Dubai 2019, London 2017, Doha 2015 and Lyon 2013.

“There were five golds, and now they are six - if we count the discus medal from Dubai,” said Legnante after her latest win. “I don’t consider myself an idol, maybe calling it a point of reference is better. 

“I just want to be someone to stimulate younger people or those who are already there. I’m happy to be back at certain distances [with her throw] and, as long as I get on the platform with my legs, you will always see me here.”

Uzbekistan’s reigning Paralympic champion and world record holder Safiya Burkhanova took the silver in a season’s best 13.72m. Her medal adds to her country’s spectacular week winning 16 medals across track and field, to put them in 8th place so far. China’s Yuping Zhao, who won gold in the javelin F13, was third. 

In the men’s discus F37 Ukraine’s championships record holder and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist, Mykola Zhabnyak, won gold in a season’s best 53.97m. Australia’s Guy Henly, who won at the London edition in 2017, claimed silver in a season’s best 52.45m. Brazil’s reigning world champion Joao Teixeira had to settle for bronze (52.33m).

And in the men’s javelin F54 Greece’s Manolis Stefanoudakis secured gold with a season’s best 29.17m.

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.