Sabatini ready for new challenges with a 200m debut in Jesolo

Italian city is hosting its second World Para Athletics Grand Prix with athletes from 27 nations competing from Friday to Sunday (6-8 May) 05 May 2022
A female athlete with her left leg amputated above the knee running on the track in front of two other female athletes.
Ambra Sabatini of Italy competed in the first edition of the Jesolo Grand Prix in 2021 winning the 100m T63 race.
ⒸMassimo Bertolini/FISPES
By Aurore Gander and Filip Ozbolt | For World Para Athletics

Jesolo, Italy, will host its second World Para Athletics Grand Prix in a row from 6 to 8 May at the Armando Picchi Stadium.

Athletes from 27 nations and three regions (Europe, Africa and Asia) will take on the second leg of the Grand Prix season with Dubai 2022 Grand Prix being the inaugural one from 21 to 24 March.

Paralympic champion Ambra Sabatini will lead the Italian contingent at the home Grand Prix being one of more than 90 athletes to represent Italy in Jesolo.


Having started practicing Para athletics in 2020, the 20-year-old Italian is already a Paralympic champion and a world record holder in the women’s 100m T63.

“I started practicing athletics when I was 12 years old. I stopped playing volleyball after six years because I preferred to practice a sport outdoors and I also loved the fact that the result depends just on you in athletics,” reckoned Sabatini.

“That’s why I started running, especially the middle-distance events like 800m, 1500m and 2000m, but also 10km on the road. I was quite good at it as I became regional champion.”

In 2019 she had her left leg amputated above the knee after being involved in a road accident. Sabatini was travelling to an athletics training session on a scooter with her father when a car hit them.

“After the accident, I already knew what to do next: Para athletics. I got to know my Federation (FISPES) and from that moment on it was a ride full of steps that slowly led me to Tokyo 2020.”

Sabatini watched lots of Para athletics videos on YouTube to keep herself motivated during the rehabilitation period. She used that motivation at her first-ever international appearance in February 2021.

Still a 19-year-old, Sabatini shattered the 100m T63 world record at the Dubai 2021 Grand Prix with a time of 14.59seconds. After presenting herself to the Para athletics world, she kept the winning streak alive by triumphing in Jesolo last year.

It was all part of the master plan for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games where Sabatini broke the world record once again (14.11s) and won the gold medal in the women’s 100m T63.

“After my gold and world record, I felt something has changed. Many people started to recognise me and got to know more about the Paralympic movement. I am very happy for this,” said the Italian star.

“I have been busy with numerous beautiful events outside of Para athletics, but that didn’t distract me. I am still the same Ambra with lots of goals and loads to work on as well.”


Sabatini’s world record on the final night of track action at the Tokyo 2020 took the spotlight, but the Italian clean podium sweep did not go unnoticed either.

The athlete born in Livorno won gold in front of compatriots Martina Caironi and Monica Graziana Contrafatto who took silver and bronze, respectively.

“Winning gold was an incredible feeling, but getting on the podium with my teammates was an even stronger feeling. We all hoped for this result. There is a relationship of healthy competition among us, but we are also supporting each other. They have helped and motivated me before and after Tokyo.”

Sabatini will compete alongside Caironi and Contrafatto in Jesolo, although they will not take on each other in the same event. Caironi, the five-time Paralympic medallist, will participate in the women’s long jump T13, T63-64, while Contrafatto decided to test herself in the 100m T63 race.

On the other hand, Sabatini will make her international debut in the 200m T63 race.

“I am breaking the ice of competing after a long time. I’ve been training a lot and I feel like this is the distance where I can perform better at the moment. I aim ready to achieve a good result,” said Sabatini who has a fond memory of competing in Jesolo over the years.

“Competing in Jesolo is a tradition for me. In 2020 at the Picchi Stadium I competed in my first-ever Paralympic event and last year I ran the 100m race. Going back there is amazing because it recalls lots of memories regarding the start of my career.”

Besides the three mentioned stars, there will be more Italian hopefuls for the victory in Jesolo. The three-time Paralympic medallist Oney Tapia leads the way in the shot put and discus throw multi-class events. The 46-year-old was among the athletes who took two wins last year in Jesolo.

Assunta Legnante is another star from the host nation looking to take double victory at the Armando Picchi Stadium. The two-time Paralympic champion will participate in the shot put and discus throw multi-class events.

The 34-year-old Alessandro Ossola will also be hoping for good results in Jesolo. The bronze medallist from the Bydgoszcz 2021 European Championships will take on the 100m and 200m T63 events.


There will be plenty of international stars visiting Jesolo as well. World record holder and Paralympic champion Salum Kashafali of Norway will lead the way in the men’s 100m T12.

Adiaratou Iglesias Forneiro of Spain is another track star coming to Italy. The two-time Paralympic medallist from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will compete in the 100m and 200m T13 events.

Sara Martinez and Ivan Jose Cano Blanco are other Spanish stars competing in Jesolo. Martinez, the four-time World Championships medallists, will participate in two field events (discus throw and long jump multi-class), while Cano Blanco stands out as the favourite in the men’s long jump T13. He won silver at the Tokyo 2020 in the event.

Hungarian star Luca Ekler will try to win a treble in Jesolo. The Paralympic champion and a three-time World Championships medallist is competing in the 100m and 400m T38 races, as well as in the women’s long jump multi-class event.

The six-time Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili of Tunisia and Croatia’s three-time Paralympic medallist Mikela Ristoski round up the star-studded entry list in the women’s competition. As the sole Tunisian representative, Tlili will compete in the shot put and discus throw multi-class events, while Ristoski will try to take the win in the long jump T20 event.

Miljenko Vucic is another Croatian star competing in Jesolo. The World Championships silver medallist will compete in the men’s shot put multi-class event. Paralympic medallists Edgars Bergs of Latvia, Zeljko Dimitrijevic of Serbia and Manolis Stefanoudakis of Greece will also be present in Jesolo for the second leg of the Grand Prix season.

The Jesolo 2022 Grand Prix is a three-day competition starting at 09:30am on Friday, 6 May. The first two competition days consist of morning and afternoon sessions, while Sunday’s action in Jesolo will only see the morning session.

The competition will be streamed live on the World Para Athletics website and Facebook page. Live results will be available here.