Tatyana McFadden and young stars make Nottwil return

Swiss leg of the Grand Prix 2021 marks first international track competition for Paralympic legend in almost two years 13 May 2021
Three female wheelchair racers competing on a track under rain
Switzerland's Manuela Schaer (front) and USA's Tatyana McFadden competing at the Nottwil 2019 Grand Prix
ⒸUrs Sigg und Team
By World Para Athletics

The World Para Athletics Grand Prix 2021 travels to Nottwil, Switzerland for the fourth leg of the series this week marking the return to action for 17-time Paralympic medallist Tatyana McFadden.

The US star will be joined by 272 athletes from 47 nations at the Sport Arena Nottwil for the three-day event, starting on Friday (14 May).

The venue also hosted the first two editions of the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in 2017 and 2019.

The Grand Prix will be streamed live on the World Para Athletics website and Facebook page and will run with no spectators and COVID-19 protocols in place.

Wheelchair racers to set the track on fire.

Famous for the fastest track in wheelchair racing, the Swiss city receives some of the world’s best racers during this year’s Grand Prix.

Paralympic legend McFadden, also the winner of 23 World Major Marathon titles, comes back to the track to her first competition in over a year and a half. She will compete in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m T53, with the first race on the list taking place on opening day at 14:45 (CEST).

Winner of 15 World Major Marathons, Manuela Schaer will be racing in the middle and long distance T54 events. Nottwil is a place the Swiss can rightly call home as she first came to the city when she was only 9, to start rehabilitation at the local Paraplegic Centre.

Catherine Debrunner is another world champion competing at home in the T53 events.

Great Britain’s five-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft is also making her Grand Prix comeback after two years to compete in the women’s 100m and 800m T34. 

The men’s events will also see some Dubai 2019 wheelchair racing world champions on the track, such as Belgium’s Peter Genyn (T51), Canada’s Brent Lakatos (T53), Tunisia's Walid Ktila (T34), UAE's Mohamed Alhammadi (T34) and USA’s Joshua George (T53).

The Swiss bullet and Rio 2016 champion Marcel Hug is the favourite in the men's T54 races.

From Junior Worlds to GP

The Swiss stadium is also a special place for young talents who are looking at securing a place at their first Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in August. 

Many of them achieved their first major international championships medals in Nottwil competing at the Junior Worlds.

Mexico’s Jose Rodolfo Chessani is one of them. A Dubai 2019 World Championships silver medallist in the men’s 400m T38, he made his major international debut at the Nottwil Junior Worlds that same year.

Chessani and his brother Mario Andres, who competes in the T12 class, are both in Switzerland to compete in the 100m and 400m.


Refugee Para athlete debut

This week’s competition will also be a Grand Prix debut for refugee Para athlete Alia Issa. The Syrian-born athlete first got in touch with Para sports three years ago in a programme supported by the Greek Paralympic Committee. 

Now she is a Paralympic hopeful and travelled to Switzerland in search of qualification for Tokyo 2020 in the women’s club throw F32.

“I made many friends through sport. I recommend everybody to do athletics, boccia or any other sport. My sport has offered me a lot of strength, I am fighting with myself to always become better and I really like that,” Alia said.

She will be in action on Saturday in Nottwil and is also set to compete at the European Championships in June in Bydgoszcz, Poland.  

Complete results from the Nottwil 2021 Grand Prix will be available here.