Preview: Arizona World Para Athletics Grand Prix

Some of the fastest Para athletes in the world will line-up between 12-13 May. 10 May 2017
Jarryd Wallace - Rio 2016

Liam Malone of New Zealand, Jarryd Wallace of the United States and Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain compete in the men's 100 meter T44 final of Rio 2016

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More than 270 athletes from 17 countries around the world head to Arizona, USA this week (12-13 May) for the fifth Grand Prix of the 2017 World Para Athletics season.

The event doubles as the Desert Challenge Games and features a number of home-grown world and Paralympic champions, past and present, such as Jarryd Wallace, David Brown, Deja Young and Cheri Madsen.

Track and field stars from further afield such as Japanese duo Atsushi Yamamoto and Tomoki Sato, Denmark’s Daniel Wagner and Germany’s Birgit Kober also line up at the Joe Selleh Track and Field venue at Arizona State University.

With nine weeks to go before the start of the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, stakes are getting higher. Here are some of the key events to look out for:

Men’s 100m T11

World and Paralympic champion David Brown has won at this meeting every year since 2013 and he will be hoping to continue that trend this year too when he lines up against the likes of US teammate Lex Gillette, the reigning world long jump T11 champion.

Men’s 100m T44

Jarryd Wallace clocked 10.78 seconds in Arizona 12 months ago, one of a number of sub-11 second races he posted last season. Rio 2016 didn’t work out as he had hoped – he finished fifth - but the 26-year-old former 200m T44 world champion is back with a vengeance this year with double world gold his key target.

Men’s 400m T52

The line-up in Arizona reads like a world final as the USA’s reigning Paralympic champion Ray Martin is joined by his teammates, 100m T52 Paralympic gold medallist Gianfranco Iannotta and multiple world medallist Steven Toyoji; Japan’s world gold and silver medallists Tomoki Sato and Hirokazu Ueyonabaru and Mexico’s former world and Paralympic champion Salvador Hernandez Mondragon complete the field.

Men’s long jump T42

The men’s long jump T42 was one of the most entertaining events to follow last year, as the world record changed hands five times. All three medallists from the 2015 World Championships line up in Arizona – Japan’s Atsushi Yamamoto, Denmark’s Daniel Wagner and the USA’s Regas Woods - so expect a tough competition.

Men’s discus F44

US Paralympic champion David Blair threw a phenomenal 63.61m at this event last year – smashing the previous world record held by his teammate, the two-time world champion Jeremy Campbell, who finished second. Another exciting duel between the pair awaits this week.

Women’s 100m T53

Three of the finalists from Rio 2016 will race in Arizona: Great Britain’s Samantha Kinghorn, Bermuda’s Jessica Cooper Lewis, and the USA’s Kelsey Lefevour. Less than 0.2 seconds separated the trio at the Paralympic Games so expect another close encounter this time.

Women’s 400m T20

The USA’s Breanna Clark set a new Paralympic record winning the 400m T20 last year - her first ever Paralympic title. The 22-year-old, whose mother Rosalyn Clark [nee Bryant] won silver at the 1976 Olympic Games, clocked 57.79 seconds – just 0.01 second off the current world record. Don’t be surprised if Clark lowers that mark this year.

Women’s 400m T54

Silver medallist at Rio 2016, the USA’s Cheri Madsen takes on the likes of her US teammate Hannah McFadden in Arizona. Double Paralympic gold medallist Madsen, 40, has plenty of experience but at 21-years-old McFadden will be hoping youth is on her side.

Women’s 800m T34

US wheelchair racer Alexa Halko lowered the 800m T34 world record twice last year, clocking 2:02.74 in June then 2:01.83 the following month. The teenager went on to clinch silver behind Great Britain’s Hannah Cockroft at Rio 2016 and she will surely prove tough opposition here.

Women’s discus F51

Expect another exciting head-to-head as the USA’s gold and silver medallists from the Rio Games do battle once again. Rachael Morrison won gold in Brazil, throwing a new world record mark of 13.09m ahead of her teammate Cassie Mitchell. Can she come out on top this time?