“I’m so pleased, it’s been a horrible past five months with lots of injuries, so the fact I was able to make this happen was amazing, and I know there’s more"
Norway’s Salum Ageze Kashafali announced his arrival on the Para athletics stage in sensational style on Friday, being one of seven world record-breakers on day one of the Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland.
The 25-year-old stormed home to a new world record in the men’s 100m T12, clocking 10.58 at his first ever Para athletics meeting.
The Bergen-based vision impaired sprinter knocked 0.08 seconds off the previous mark set by Azerbaijan’s Elchin Muradov back in 2009.
“I’m very happy, words cannot explain how I feel. I never expected to run that time when it’s my first race today,” said Kashafali, back in action after a two-year hiatus following a hamstring injury.
“I’m just getting started to compete again, it’s been a long time away from the track but it’s good to be back. My time wasn’t even in my head, I was just focused on the technical side of things that my coach has been telling me to do.
“I’m just looking forward to competing against other guys now.”
“My focus this season is just to improve my 100m,” he continued. “Just to improve my time, simple as that. To run faster and faster – hopefully I’ll get there. I’m very motivated to go forward.”
Record breakers for Germany
Germany’s triple London 2017 champion Johannes Floors raced to a new world record in the men’s 100m T62, stopping the clock at 10.75 seconds. His teammate Irmgard Bensusan, a triple silver medallist at Rio 2016, notched up two records of her own - in the women’s 100m (12.72) and 200m T44 (26.23).
“I didn’t expect that as I walked to the start line; we just wanted to open the season with a good race. We didn’t expect a world record but it’s even better, so I would say it’s a mark for every other athlete,” said Floors.
Dutch Para athlete Marlene van Gansewinkel meanwhile took a massive 0.19 seconds off the time she set on her way to European 100m T64 gold last year, this time stopping the clock at 12.66.
The 24-year-old had only recently returned to the track after injury. In fact, she had only completed one speed session before heading to Switzerland.
“I’m so pleased, it’s been a horrible past five months with lots of injuries, so the fact I was able to make this happen was amazing, and I know there’s more,” she said.
There were 100m world records too for France’s double European champion Mandy Francois-Elie in the T37 class and Swiss European 200m T62 gold medallist Abassia Rahmani.
Francois-Elie’s time of 13.10 took 0.03 seconds off the previous mark set by Briton Georgie Hermitage at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, while Rahmani crossed the line in 13.79.
In the day’s other 100m races, there were wins for eight-time world champion Evan O’Hanlon (11.38), back out of retirement and racing in the 100m T38, and his Australian teammate Chad Perris (11.00), winner of the men’s 100m T13.
Local favourite Manuela Schaer (28.19) set a new European record in the women’s 200m T54; Finland’s Leo-Pekka (24.69) was the fastest in the men’s equivalent; Thailand’s Pongsakorn Paeyo (25.71) won the 200m T53 and Russia’s former world champion Andrei Vdovin (24.59) won the 200m T35, one of a group of Russian Para athletes racing in Nottwil.
A number of 800m races also took place on the first of three days of action in the Swiss sunshine.
Schaer (1:43.39) was back on track in the afternoon session, breaking the T54 European record over two laps. In the same event, China’s Lihong Zou (1:44.91) set a new Asian record. There was also an Oceania record for Australia’s Eliza Ault-Connell (1:45.08).
Australia’s Madison de Rozario (1:50.09) comfortably won the women’s 800m T53; Canada’s Brent Lakatos (1:38.49) won the men’s race; the UAE’s Mohamed Alhammadi (1:46.32) won the 800m T34 and Briton Hannah Cockroft (2:01.46) finished well out in front in the women’s 800m T34.
China’s Yong Zhang (1:31.63) was the fastest finisher in the heats of the 800m T54, clocking a new Asian record in the process. But US world record holder Daniel Romanchuk (1:33.20) looked formidable in his heat, with the 1,500m T54 next up on Saturday.
“Here my main goal is to try and get as good a times as I can and I think it’s going well,” said Romanchuk, who won the world marathon title in London last month.
“It’s the first track meet of the season so it’s also a chance to find out what I need to work on for the remainder before the Worlds.
“It’s great to see everyone and see where I am and what I need to work on over the summer, and just get a gauge on where everything is.”
Out in the field, India’s 2018 Asian Para Games bronze medallist Sundar Singh Gurjar managed 45.41m in the discus F46; Denmark’s European silver medallist Ronni Jensen threw 43.33m in the discus F37 and Dutch thrower Lara Baars, a Paralympic bronze medallist, had a best of 6.88m in the shot put F40.