The fourth IPC Athletics Grand Prix of 2015 gets underway on Saturday (18 April) in Beijing, China, with more than 160 athletes from 14 countries set to take part in the meeting which doubles as The 3rd China Open Athletics Championships.
In a pivotal year of para-athletics which culminates in October’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, the meeting has attracted a wealth of talent with more than 20 medallists from the London 2012 Paralympic Games hoping to lay down a marker nearly half way through the 2015 Grand Prix series.
The three-day meeting returns once again to the city’s Outdoor Athletics Track – part of the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities sports complex in the Shunyi District of Beijing.
Here are just some of the key events to watch out for:
Women’s 800m T53
China’s track star Lisha Huang dominated the T53 sprints at both the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, winning double gold on each occasion. With success over 100m and 200m already under her belt, the 26-year-old steps up to the longer distances in Beijing, taking on the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m.
Hoping to upset Huang’s plans is her compatriot Hongzhuan Zhou, who also secured the golden double in London and Lyon, with wins in the 400m and 800m T53. Zhou beat Huang to the line in the 200m and 400m at this event a year ago, with Huang winning the 100m – another battle is sure to be on the cards this time around.
Women’s 100m T12
Another impressive sprinter to watch out for is Guohua Zhou. The T12 para-athlete triumphed over 100m in London and followed that up with the world title in Lyon a year later.
Zhou takes on the 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m (T11-13) relay in Beijing and will be hard to beat, although Chinese Taipei’s Ya-Ting Liu has plenty of top-level experience, having won world javelin F12/13 bronze in Lyon.
Women’s 400m T38
China’s Paralympic champion Junfei Chen was in terrific form at last October’s Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, smashing the 400m T38 world record and setting a new 100m T38 Asian record on her way to securing a hat trick of individual gold medals. The 22-year-old will be hoping for another winning performance in front of her home crowd.
Women’s Javelin F54/55/56
China’s Liwan Yang won shot put and javelin gold (F54/55/56) at London 2012, but had to settle for two silvers at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships.
She is back in winning form again however after victories in the discus, shot put and javelin at the Asian Para Games last October, throwing a new javelin F54 world record in the process.
Men’s 100m T38
There is an impressive international field in the men’s 100m T38 with sprinters from China, South Korea and Malaysia all in the starting line-up – including the home nation’s Wenjun Zhou, three-time medallist at the Paralympic Games in London.
Men’s 400m T53
China’s Paralympic double gold medallist Huzhao Li takes on the 400m T53 and the 4x400m T53/54 relay hoping for a repeat of his winning form from the Asian Para Games last year.
Shiran Yu, 100m T53 bronze medallist in London, will be hoping he has what it takes over one lap to get the better of his compatriot. Watch out too for South Korea’s Byunghoon Yu – fourth in the world rankings behind Li in 2014.
Men’s shot put F44
Denmark’s Jackie Christiansen doubles up in the shot put and discus in Beijing, and as the reigning Paralympic and world shot put champion – and world record holder – he is sure to provide tough competition for the rest of the field.
Men’s Javelin F12/13
Chinese Taipei’s Chih-Chung Chiang ended the 2014 season second in the world rankings for the men’s javelin F12 having won at this event last year with a best of 58.30m. The world champion in 2013, Chiang will be hoping to continue his winning form this year too as he prepares for the IPC Athletics World Championships set to take place in Qatar in six months’ time.