China’s Paralympic champions are out in force for the sixth World Para Athletics Grand Prix of 2017, which takes place from 13-15 May in Beijing.
More than 200 Para athletes from 14 countries will line up at the Grand Prix, including 21 of the host nation’s gold medallists from last year’s Paralympic Games.
It’s a busy weekend of Para athletics around the world as the Arizona Grand Prix takes place over the same weekend in the USA.
Here are the top names to look out for in East Asia as the track and field season edges closer to July’s World Para Athletics Championships.
Men’s 100m T38
China’s Jianwen Hu hit the headlines at Rio 2016 when he claimed the scalp of Australia’s defending champion Evan O’Hanlon in the 100m T38. Hu smashed O’Hanlon’s world record on his way to gold and will be a hot favourite to win in Beijing this weekend – he won all four events he took part in last year too.
Men’s 100m T54
Yang Liu won silver in this event at Rio 2016 and at London 2012, but he got the better of Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tahti at the 2015 World Championships and, as the defending champion, he has a lot to live up to this summer at London 2017. The 27-year-old takes on a field including four Japanese athletes in Beijing; Japan’s wheelchair racers have shown great improvement over the last 18 months so it will be fascinating to see how the race unfolds.
Men’s 400m T12
Qichao Sun is another of China’s successful Paralympic gold medallists. The 22-year-old was only 0.05 seconds shy of the world record when he won 400m T12 gold at Rio 2016. He will be hoping that form continues this season.
Men’s discus F57
China’s Guoshan Wu takes on three events in Beijing over the three days of competition – the shot put, javelin and discus. The multi-talented thrower won Paralympic shot put F57 gold at Rio 2016 as well as discus F57 gold at the last World Championships and will be hoping to be in top form this season after Brazilian Thiago Paulino broke the discus F57 world record earlier this year.
Women’s 100m T11
Watch out for Chinese sprinter Cuiqing Liu, who won a hat trick of titles at Doha 2015. The 25-year-old came up against Great Britain’s Libby Clegg at Rio 2016, and had to settle for 400m T11 gold, 200m T11 silver and 100m T11 bronze. Don’t be surprised if she is back with a vengeance in 2017.
Women’s 100m T54
Chinese women wheelchair racers excelled at Rio 2016, claiming 10 medals between them. Wenjun Liu was one of the stars of China’s medal table-topping team, winning gold in the 100m T54 ahead of the likes of US star Tatyana McFadden.
Women’s 200m T36
China’s Yiting Shi and South Korea’s Min Jae Jeon won gold and silver respectively in the women’s 200m T36 at Rio 2016 - they will go head-to-head again in Beijing. Joining the pair on the start line are three Para athletes from Hong Kong, including Rio 2016 finalist Kwok Fan Yam.
Women’s 400m T53
Double gold medallist at Rio 2016, Hongzhuan Zhou was also in record-breaking form last year, setting new marks in both the 400m and 800m T53. The 28-year-old won the 400m, 800m and 1,500m at the Beijing Grand Prix last year – she takes on the 100m, 200m and 400m this time around.
Women’s discus F11
Chinese duo Liangmin Zhang and Hongxia Tang line up in the discus F11 class, rekindling their rivalry from Rio 2016 and Doha 2015. On both occasions, Zhang took gold with Tang winning silver; Nidhi Mishra of India joins the pair this time around in what should be another entertaining battle.
Women’s javelin F34
Lijuan Zou was one of four Chinese Para athletes to win individual double gold at Rio 2016 – she won the javelin and shot put F34 and takes on both events in Beijing this weekend, as well as the javelin. Zou, who also won two gold medals at Doha 2015, was in record-breaking form eight months ago; how far can she throw now?