Paris 23: Terrific Tuesday for Thailand and Townsend

Thai wheelchair racers Rattana and Paeyo break back to back world records and USA high jumper saves best for last on day four in the French capital 11 Jul 2023
A man in a racing wheelchair celebrating
Chaiwat Rattana celebrates his victory and world record in the men's 400m T34 final at the Charlety Stadium
ⒸMatthias Hangst/Getty Images
By Mary Barber | For World Para Athletics

Thailand’s wheelchair racers reigned supreme in the men’s 400m with world records set in both the T34 and T53 categories at the Paris 2023 World Para Athletics Championships on Tuesday (11 July).

Chaiwat Rattana and Pongsakom Paeyo’s back-to-back victories where among the highlights of the evening session that saw 13 titles handed out. China’s Xiaoyan Wen also set a world record in the women’s long jump T37 as did USA’s Roderick Townsend in the men’s high jump T47. And there were celebrations in Latin America when female sprinters from Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil won gold.

Rattana was the first to claim world domination in the T34 race. He timed his race to perfection to finish in 48.65 followed by the UAE’s Mohamed Alhammadi, who set a lifetime best in 49.21, with Canadian former hockey player, Austin Smeenk, in bronze (49.32).

Just moments later it was Paeyo’s turn to make history in the T53 final. The Paralympic champion was pushed all the way by Canada’s Brent Lakatos, but he got to the line first in a record-breaking 46.11. Lakatos set an Americas’ record in 46.22. USA’s Brian Siemann followed in 48.63.

China’s Xiaoyan Wen was the one to beat in the women’s long jump T37. The reigning Paralympic and world champion landed a jump of 5.33m to set a new world record. USA’s Jaleen Roberts, the Paralympic and world silver medallist, came second and set a season’s best with her 5.00m jump. But the biggest cheer of the night was saved for bronze medallist and home favourite Manon Genest, who claimed the country’s first medal of the Championships. She finished in 4.76m.

Elsewhere on the field, USA’s Paralympic and world champion Roderick Townsend-Roberts overcame a challenge from India’s Paralympic joint silver medallists Nishad Kumar and USA’s Dallas Wise to win the men’s high jump T47 final in a world record 2.16m. The silver went to Kumar, who set an Asian record in 2.09m, and Wise in bronze (2.04m).

From sixth to gold

Out on the track, there was a surprise victory in the women’s 100m T47 when Ecuador’s world champion long jumper, Kiara Rodriguez, claimed the crown from USA’s world record holder Brittni Mason. Rodriguez surged past the reigning world champion to hit the line in a lifetime best of 12.17. 

Mason, who missed out on gold in the Paralympics, tried to respond but could not catch her. She finished just behind with a season’s best in 12.24. Rodriguez was joined by another long jumper on the podium. New Zealand’s Anna Grimaldi, a two-time Paralympic T47 long jump champion, took the bronze in 12.32. 

A delighted Rodriguez said: “I took part in my first World Championships in Dubai four years ago where I finished sixth. From sixth to first means a lot to me, it shows that I have improved a lot.”

She also finished sixth in the race at Tokyo 2020 where she took bronze in the long jump.

Colombia’s Darian Jimenez also won her first world championship gold medal in the women’s 100m T38 in a season’s best time of 12.50. Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic and world champion Sophie Hahn had to settle for bronze after Hungary’s Luca Ekler came second in 12.54. 

Brazil’s Thalita Simplicio was simply the best in the women’s 400m T11. The defending world champion kept her crown as she powered with guide Felipe Veloso around the track to set a personal best time of 56.60. Namibia’s Lahja Ishitile was second followed by Colombia’s Angie Pabon.

A Latin American athlete also picked up a silver medal in the women’s shot put F20. Great Britain’s reigning world champion Sabrina Fortune won the event. She had a championship record throw of 14.01m. Ecuador’s Paralympic champion and world record holder Poleth Mendes 13.60m, which was a season’s best. 

There was another brilliant performance in the penultimate race when Switzerland’s Catherine Debrunner claimed her second gold of the Championships a in the women’s 800m T53. The 28-year-old set off at a blistering pace and didn’t ease up until she crossed the line more than 20m ahead of the field in 1:38.89, which was a championship record.

Great Britain’s Samantha Kinghorn was second in 1:44.98 followed by Turkey’s Hamide Dogangun. Australia’s reigning Paralympic and world champion, Madison de Rozario did not start. She also pulled out of the 5000m race on Monday. 

Switzerland’s Paralympic champion Manuela Schaer picked up the world title and set a championship record in the women’s 800m T54 in 1:42.25. She was about 20 metres ahead of second place China’s Zhaoqian Zhou and Paralympic track legend Tatyana McFadden who came in third.

China’s Xia Zhou set the standard in the women’s 200m T35. The Paralympic champion and world record holder pulled off the bend in the lead, which she extended to the finish in a season’s best 28.77. Her compatriot, Qianqian Guo, had an outstanding Championships debut, to finish in second place in a lifetime best of 29.91. Great Britain’s three-time European champion Maria Lyle took the bronze (31.01).

Elsewhere, Latvia’s five-time Paralympic champion Algars Apinis took his fourth world title in the men's discus F52 (20.46m).

China’s Paralympic and world champion Lijuan Zou was the won to beat in the women’s javelin F34. She dominated the event to win 20.74m, which was a new championship record.

Complete schedule, and results from Paris 23 are available here.

The Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships will be streamed live on the World Para Athletics Facebook page with geo-blocking restrictions in certain territories. More information is available here.