World-class Para athletics returns to Brazil for the third World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the 2017 season, taking place in Sao Paulo from 21-23 April.
More than 180 athletes from seven countries will line up over the course of three days of competition at the new Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre, which opened in May 2016.
The event, which doubles as the Loterias Caixa Athletics Open Championships, will see many of Brazil’s own home grown talent out to impress, with an eye on meeting the qualification criteria required for this summer’s World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain.
Eighteen medallists from Rio 2016 are set to compete, including five of Brazil’s gold medallists – Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos, Daniel Martins, Alessandro Silva, Claudiney Batista dos Santos and Ricardo Costa de Oliveira.
Here are some of the key events to look out for:
Men’s 100m T47
There is no doubt all eyes will be on Brazilian track star Petrucio Ferreira, after his record-breaking success at Rio 2016. Ferreira was just 19-years-old when he smashed the 100m T47 world record which had stood for 24 years on his way to his first Paralympic title. Winner at last year’s Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro, Ferreira lines up against Brazil’s experienced sprinter Yohansson Nascimento, who won 200m T47 gold at the Doha 2015 World Championships.
Men’s 200m T11
The men’s visually impaired sprints are bursting with talent – the 200m T11 event includes Brazilians Felipe Gomes and Daniel Silva, silver and bronze medallists at Rio 2016, as well as Lucas Prado, who won the world title in 2011 and again in 2013. Gomes is the reigning world champion and won this event last year but another victory for the 30-year-old is by no means a given.
Men’s 400m T20
Reigning Paralympic and world champion Daniel Martins of Brazil will provide tough competition for the likes of Argentinian Alan del Valle. Martins was in terrific form seven months ago at Rio 2016, breaking the world record he set at this event in May last year.
Men’s 5,000m T11
Chile’s Cristian Valenzuela will be hoping to make amends for a disappointing Rio 2016. Disqualified in the heats of the 1,500m, he did not start over 5,000m. But he has impressive form – he won 5,000m T11 gold at London 2012 for Chile’s first Paralympic medal and gold too at Doha 2015. Lining up alongside him will be Brazilian Josoaldo Coelho da Silva as well as Peruvian Luis Sandoval, who contested the 1,500m T11 in Rio, but failed to progress to the final.
Men’s discus F54-56
Claudiney Batista dos Santos set a new discus F56 Paralympic record when he threw 45.33m to take gold in Rio – he also set a new javelin F56 world record of 42.74m to finish fifth in the javelin F57 final. The 38-year-old, who won discus silver and javelin bronze at Doha 2015, takes on three events in Sao Paulo – the discus, javelin and shot put.
Men’s long jump T11
Ricardo Costa da Oliveira delighted the home crowds at Rio 2016 when he clinched Paralympic long jump T11 gold last year – with his very last jump of the competition. Clearly a man who can handle pressure, Costa da Oliveira will be hoping to make another big impression this year, having finished out of the medals at Doha 2015.
Women’s 100m T11
Brazil’s former Paralympic champion Terezinha Guilhermina returns to competition after what she admits was a disappointing Paralympic Games. The visually impaired sprinter was disqualified in the 100m and 200m, winning bronze in the 400m T11. She is back this year with a new coach, Daniel Biscola. Watch out too for fellow Brazilians Jerusa Geber Santos and Jhulia Santos, world silver and bronze medallists respectively at Doha 2015.
Women’s 400m T47
The women’s 400m T47 includes two finalists from Rio 2016 – Chile’s Amanda Cerna, who finished fourth, and Peruvian Yeny Vargas, who finished seventh. They line up against Brazil’s Teresinha de Jesus Correia dos Santos – who dipped under one minute to win the Rio 2016 Paralympic Test Event last year, but did not line up at the Games, and her teammate Fernanda Silva.
Women’s shot put F11/12
Two medallists from Rio 2016 will compete in the women’s shot put F11/12 in Sao Paulo. F11 thrower Izabela Campos of Brazil won Paralympic bronze last year, while Rebeca Valenzuela Alvarez was one of Mexico’s five Paralympic medallists – she won bronze in the shot put F12. Campos, who won world shot put bronze at Lyon 2013 and discus bronze at Doha 2015, also takes on the discus and javelin.
Women’s long jump T11
Guilhermina has opted to compete in the long jump as well this year – she regards the event as a new motivation which “demands a physical and mental preparation that, as a sprinter, I was not used to.” Her Brazilian teammate Lorena Salvatini Spoladore won Paralympic bronze in Rio to add to her world silver from 2015 and world gold from 2013 – she will surely be tough to beat.