Preview: IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Mesa, USA

Around 220 athletes, including five US world champions will be in action 15-16 May. 14 May 2015
Three members of USA's athletics team - Jarryd Wallace, David Prince and Jerome Singleton - pose for a photo.

David Prince (left), Jarryd Wallace (centre) and Jerome Singleton pose after racint the men's 200m T44 final at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France.

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More than 15 US medallists from the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships – including five of America’s gold medal winners - are part of an impressive line-up at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Arizona, USA, which takes place on the 15-16 May.

The meeting, which doubles as the Desert Challenge Games, is the sixth in a series of nine Grand Prix taking place around the world this year and features more than 220 athletes from 13 countries.

Here are some of the key events to watch out for:

Men’s 200m T44

All three 200m T44 medallists from the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, will battle it out on the track once again – this time on home soil.

US sprinter Jarryd Wallace raced to 200m gold in Lyon in world record time, while his countrymen David Prince and Jerome Singleton claimed silver and bronze respectively. With the 2015 World Championships in Qatar in less than six months’ time, this race could provide a fascinating taster of what is to come.

Men’s 400m T11

America’s double world silver medallist and the 100m and 200m T11 world record holder David Brown has already made clear his intention to target the 400m global mark this year. The 22-year-old won over 100m and 200m at this event last year having smashed both world records weeks earlier in California. The question is, just how fast can he go in 2015?

Men’s 800m T52

Multiple Paralympic and world champion Raymond Martin set a new world record over 200m at this event last year and will be tough to beat this time around too. Mexico’s Leonardo Perez is amongst those hoping to upset the form book, having clinched world 800m T52 silver just over half a second behind Martin in 2013. Watch out too for the USA’s Isaiah Rigo, second behind Martin in Arizona 12 months ago.

Men’s discus F44

Paralympic and world discus F44 champion Jeremy Campbell will be hoping to return to the top of the global rankings having finished last year in second place behind Great Britain’s Dan Greaves. The 27-year-old threw the world record mark of 63.46m nearly three years ago and will be hoping to improve on the 58.40m that earned him a convincing victory here last year.

Men’s Long jump T11

American world long jump T11 champion Lex Gillette is the man to beat this week. The 30-year-old has a habit of impressing at this meeting, having recorded the world record mark of 6.73m in 2011 and again in 2014.

Women’s 100m T52

Another thrilling head to head is on the cards as Canada’s Michelle Stilwell lines up against the USA’s Cassie Mitchell. The pair finished first and second respectively over 100m at the IPC Athletics World Championships in 2013 and Stilwell currently tops the 2015 global rankings having clocked 19.61 in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year.

Women’s 800m T34

Watch out for the talented young American racer Alexa Halko. The 14-year-old, ranked fourth in the world in 2014, could well be a thorn in the side of Great Britain’s track star Hannah Cockroft this year. Halko will line up against Canada’s Rachael Burrows, the experienced 32-year-old who reached the finals of both the 100m and 200m T34 at the 2013 World Championships.

Women’s 800m T54

Always a highly anticipated event on the international stage, this race is no different. The US trio of Hannah McFadden, Susannah Scaroni and Cheri Madsen are the ones to watch out for. It was 19-year-old McFadden – younger sister to world-renowned Tatyana McFadden - who won this race 12 months ago, but Scaroni has already shown great form this year whilst Madsen has the experience gained at major championship level, having medalled at the Paralympic Games in 1996 and 2000 before a 12-year break from competition.

Women’s club throw T51

Twelve months ago Canada’s Becky Richter and American Zena Cole battled it out for Grand Prix victory in Mesa; Rachael Morrison hadn’t even picked up a club. A year on and Morrison holds the world record having thrown a massive 21.90m in the Czech Republic last July in only her third competition. It is Morrison’s debut Grand Prix – how will she cope with her transformation from unknown to favourite?

Women’s Long Jump T42

Germany’s Vanessa Low returns to the US Grand Prix a year on from setting a world record mark of 4.47m. The 24-year-old was in superb form in 2014, winning the long jump T42 at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Wales, Great Britain, last summer. Days later she bettered her own world record mark with a leap of 4.60m at the Grand Prix Final; she will be hoping that form has continued into 2015. Americans Scout Bassett and Lacey Henderson will once again be hoping to upset the German’s plans in Arizona.