The World Para Athletics Grand Prix season kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 24 March.
It was the fifth-consecutive season opener at the Dubai Club for People of Determination, the same venue that hosted the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships.
Dubai 2022 GP gathered 446 athletes and 30 guides from 43 nations at the first major competition after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in September last year.
Marcel Hug of Switzerland was the biggest star competing at the Dubai 2022 GP. The 36-year-old took home two wins in the men’s 1500m and 5000m T54 races.
On his way to triumph in the 5000m T54 event, the six-time Paralympic champion broke the world record* and set the pace at 9:32.32.
“It's amazing. I am very happy with my form right now,” said Hug who broke his own world record set on 16 March during an international meet in Sharjah, UAE.
“It was my goal to come here and break the world record. I wanted to try breaking the record here as the conditions are always perfect, especially in the evening. Besides, this is a very fast track so I had a great chance to get a fast time.”
Paralympic Sports Award winner in the Best Male Athlete category in 2021, Hug shaved off more than six seconds (9:36.11) from the previous record held by the US athlete Daniel Romanchuk (9:42.83) in Sharjah.
To cap off a great start of the season, Hug improved on his own record by a little bit less than four seconds in Dubai.
IMPROVING ON FROM TOKYO
Colombia’s Jose Gregorio Lemos Rivas had an outstanding season opener as well. The 30-year-old broke the world record in the men’s javelin throw F38 improving on his previous record by 27 centimetres (60.58m).
“I came here with a record-breaking performance on my mind. I want to inspire other upcoming athletes from my country with my performance. My next goal is to win a gold in Paris 2024,” said the Colombian athlete.
Lemos Rivas is the current Paralympic champion in the event from the Tokyo 2020 Games where he won gold with an attempt of 60.31m.
The athlete from Cali competed in two more events in Dubai. He finished third in both the men’s 100m T38 and long jump T36/38.
There were two more world records broken during the course of the first World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the season. Algeria’s Paralympic champion Safia Djelal set the mark at 11.56m in the women’s shot put F57 on day one of the competition in Dubai.
The 39-year-old improved on her previous record from Tokyo by 27 centimetres. Djelal competed in one more event in Dubai, women’s discus F56/57, finishing second behind her compatriot Nadia Medjmedj.
Iraq’s Ahmed Naas broke the world record in the men’s javelin throw F40 with an attempt of 39.08m. The 30-year-old improved on his own record set almost five years ago in London, Great Britain.
The men’s 100m T38 event was one of the most-anticipated in Dubai with Paralympic champions Thomas Young and Nick Mayhugh going against each other.
Great Britain’s Young took home the victory, setting a 10.99-mark to start the year with. USA’s Mayhugh finished in second place with a time of 11.31. Mayhugh won four medals in Tokyo, including three golds, in the T37 class.
COLOMBIA’S MEDAL HARVEST
Young’s compatriot Hannah Cockroft triumphed in two events, women’s 100m T34/53 (17.36) and 800m T34/53 (1:53.26). The British wheelchair racer and seven-time Paralympic champion defeated Australia’s Angela Ballard in both events.
Another Tokyo 2020 champion Andrew Small capped off a great competition in Dubai for Great Britain. He set the new European record in the men’s 800m T33 with a time of 2:11.52.
Small’s record was amongst 20 regional records set in Dubai.
USA’s Brittni Mason and Tunisia’s Walid Ktila were the other star performers to take home two victories from Dubai. The five-time Paralympic champion Ktila won in the men’s 100m (15.25) and 800m (1:44.33) T33/34, while Mason triumphed in the sprint events.
The 23-year-old from Cleveland won the women’s 100m T46/47 race in 12.43-time rounding up a great performance with a win in the 200m T46/47 event (26.08).
Ktila’s compatriot and a six-time Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili set the foundation for a successful season with two wins as well. She triumphed in the women’s discus F40/41/44 (33.77m) and shot put F40/41/44 (9.99m).
With 25 medals in total, including 12 golds, eight silvers and five bronze medals, Colombia was the most successful nation at the Dubai 2022 GP.
Algeria finished in second with 16 medals (11 golds, four silvers and one bronze) with Thailand climbing onto the third step of the podium with 30 medals in total (eight golds, 11 silvers and bronze medals).
Complete results from the Dubai 2022 Grand Prix can be found here.
World Para Athletics Grand Prix now moves from Asia to Africa. Tunis and Marrakech will be the next two stops in the 2022 Grand Prix season.
The Tunisian capital will be the first host from 27 to 29 June followed by the competition in the Moroccan city from 15 to 17 September.
*World record subject to ratification by World Para Athletics.