Two Asian records were smashed on the first day of competition (Monday 7 March) at the inaugural 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai, UAE.
Sri Lanka’s Anil Prasanna Jayalath Yodha Pedige blasted out of the blocks in the men’s 200m T42 and held on strongly to take the win in 25.11, lowering his own previous Asian record mark by an impressive 0.76 seconds.
The 30-year-old, who won 200m T42 gold at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, was suitably delighted with his performance.
“I had a lot of hopes and expectations coming to this event to get a good time and qualify for the Rio Paralympics. I want to medal there so this is a great start,” he said.
“I want to improve my time to 24.5 too, and I am confident that I can keep improving on my times and get to Brazil.”
London 2012 finalist Atsushi Yamamoto of Japan had to settle for silver (26.83) although he will have high hopes in the long jump T42 event later this week, having safely held on to his world title in Qatar last year. Bronze went to Sri Lanka’s Buddika Indrapala (27.50).
Vietnam picked up their first medal of the Championships – as well as a new Asian record - courtesy of Be Hau Nguyen in the men’s shot put F55/56.
The 28-year-old added eight centimetres on to the Asian record with a throw of 10.18m (780 points) in the second round. Silver went to Mongolia’s Sambuudanzan Ganzorig with a best of 9.13m (610 points) while Iran’s Parviz Golpasandhagh took bronze (576 points).
Local favourite Mohamed Hammadi picked up gold for the host nation in the men’s 200m T34. Hammadi never looked in doubt as he cruised round the bend and down the home straight at the city’s Dubai Police Officer’s Club stadium to take gold in 29.31.
The 30-year-old, who won silver at the IPC Athletics World Championships last year, looked in confident mood as he took the win ahead of Kuwait’s Ahmad Almutairi (T33), with Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Kubaisi (T34) clinching bronze.
“This is my first race for this season and my first competition after the World Championships,” he said.
“I will race in the 100m and 800m in Rio de Janeiro. Today I changed things a little bit – the chair, the wheels, so it was a good chance for me to get things right before Rio. I think I am ready.
“I have three more events this week – I hope for three more wins,” added the Asian Para Games champion, who also goes for gold in the 100m, 400m and 800m T34 in Dubai.
Japan dominated the podium in the men’s 1,500m T20 as Daisuke Nakagawa led the way home in 4:08.03.
Nakagawa, the world champion over 5,000m, made his intentions clear as he took an early lead. Only his compatriot Yusuke Yamanouchi was able to stay in touch, racing on Nakagawa’s shoulder up until the final lap, but then Nakagawa took control and accelerated clear, leaving Yamanouchi to settle for silver (4:11.20). Japan’s Yuya Kimura took bronze (4:15.40).
There was a thrilling battle to the line in the men’s 200m T44 but it was India’s Manoj Baskar who took the gold medal position, dipping keenly as he stopped the clock in 24.90, just 0.04 seconds ahead of his compatriot Anandan Gunasekaran who won silver.
China picked up the first gold of the day as Ming Xin took gold in the men’s 100m T35, crossing the line in 15.70.
Saudia Arabia’s Paralympic silver medallist Hani Alnakhli (F33) topped the podium in the men’s discus throw F33/34.
The world record holder’s fourth round throw of 27.44m (828 points) was enough to take gold ahead of Qatar’s Abdulrahman Abdulrahman (F34) who threw 30.72m (619 points). Bronze went to the UAE’s Ahmed Alhousani (F33) with 22.78m (592 points).
“I’m glad to win the gold medal in the first Asia-Oceania Championships and I am happy because it is here in the Gulf area. I still have the shot put and javelin to come. My dream starts from here – I want to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Brazil,” said Alnakhli.
Earlier, the first gold medal out in the field had gone to Iran’s Hashemiyeh Motaghian Moavi (F56) with victory in the women’s javelin F55/56 (690 points).
The 29-year-old only managed two legal throws out of a possible six, but her fifth attempt of 17.24m - only 13 centimetres shy of the Asian record she set at the IPC Athletics World Championships last year - was enough to take the title. Silver went to India’s Karam Jyoti (F55) with a best of 11.62m (431 points).
Iran notched up a second gold medal on day one as Seyed Javanmardi (F35) won the men’s shot put F35/36 with a best of 13.21m (865 points). Iraq took silver through Jabbar Al-Azzawi (F35) (673 points) and the third spot on the podium went to the UAE’s Saeed Mubarak (F36) (607 points).
Victory went to form in the men’s long jump T20 as Malaysia’s reigning world and Asian Para Games champion Abdul Latif Romly picked up yet another major gold medal.
The 18-year-old saved his best until last as he leapt 7.07m to take the win ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Asaad Sharaheli (6.82m), with bronze going to Japan’s Mitsuo Yamaguchi (6.72m).
Iraq took gold and silver in the men’s javelin F40/41 as Paralympic silver medallist Ahmed Naas (F40) threw a best of 35.75m (1017 points) for gold.
It was déjà vu for his compatriot Wildan Nukhailawi (F41) - Paralympic bronze medallist in 2012 behind Naas –who threw 41.07m (926 points) for silver. China’s Tongqing Shen (F41) threw 37.54m (830 points) to take bronze.
Competition continues tomorrow (8 March) at the Dubai Police Officer’s Club stadium.