Ten Para athletes looking to make up for lost time

After maybe performing as well as they had hoped at Rio 2016, here are 10 athletes looking to put the record straight at July’s World Championships. 15 Feb 2017
Branimir Budetic of Croatia

Branimir Budetic of Croatia

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Para athletes around the world had high hopes for Rio 2016, whether that be reaching a final, climbing on to the podium, or winning a gold medal.

For some, there was disappointment; for others, happiness – but still unfulfilled potential. Here are 10 Para athletes we could see bounce back this year.

1. Jarryd Wallace (USA, T44)

In the lead up to Rio 2016 Wallace had shown terrific form. Consistently clocking sub-11 seconds over 100m, the American was regarded as a key threat to Jonnie Peacock’s T44 Paralympic crown. But the former world record holder only managed to finish fifth. “Rio was disappointing to say the least…Coming off the most consistent and best year in my career I fell short of what I was hoping,” he told Nitro Athletics in January.

2. Angie Ballard (Australia, T53)

Five-time Paralympian Ballard entered Rio 2016 as one of the favourites for gold in the T53 class. A terrific 18 months had seen the Australian win 200m and 400m at the 2015 World Championships, as well as set new world record marks over 400m and 800m. But when it came to the Paralympic Games, a gold medal proved elusive once more as she won 100m and 400m T53 bronze and 4x400m T53/54 silver. “I left everything out there and I’m already figuring out ways to close the gap,” she stated afterwards.

3. Alan Oliveira (Brazil, T43)

Oliveira hit the headlines at London 2012 when he won 200m T44 gold; three more gold medals followed at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France. The Brazilian then took a break from sport citing exhaustion, but his return to the track in time for the Parapan Am Games in 2015, where he won 200m T44 gold and 100m T44 silver, suggested Rio 2016 was on the agenda. But it was not to be as the 24-year-old failed to progress past the opening round in the individual sprints – he did secure silver as part of Brazil’s 4x100m T42-47 relay quartet.

4. Manuela Schaer (Switzerland, T54)

At Rio 2016, the Swiss wheelchair racer found herself up against US and Chinese athletes who worked intelligently together with their respective teammates – the US trio of Tatyana McFadden, Amanda McGrory and Chelsea McClammer twice achieved a clean sweep of podium finishes, and their hard work as a trio made it even harder for the likes of Schaer to put herself in the mix.

5. Veronica Hipolito (Brazil, T38)

There were high hopes for the popular 20-year-old who took on the 100m, 400m and long jump T38 at Rio 2016. But gold wasn’t to be this time as she had to settle for silver behind Great Britain’s Sophie Hahn in the shorter sprint, while over one lap she clinched bronze behind Briton Kadeena Cox and China’s Junfei Chan. Hipolito vowed to line up at London 2017 with her sights set on gold.

6. Johannes Floors (Germany, T43)

Floors was in winning form at the 2016 European Championships in Grosseto, Italy. Champion in the 200m and 400m T44, he looked to be a major title threat heading to Rio 2016, but individual medals didn’t come his way as he finished fourth in the 200m T44 and did not start over one lap.

7. Carlee Beattie (Australia, long jump T47)

Silver medallist at London 2012, Beattie went on to set a new world record in 2013, then clinch the world title in 2015. Arriving at Rio 2016, she was the favourite for gold. But Beattie had to make do with bronze as she was beaten on the day by New Zealander Anna Grimaldi and Cuban Yunidis Castillo.

8. Per Jonsson (Sweden, long jump T12)

The reigning world champion failed to progress past the first three jumps of the long jump T12 final at Rio 2016, with only the top eight awarded an additional three attempts. Jonsson, who had won the European title three months earlier, bowed out in ninth place - 36cm behind the eventual winner, South African Hilton Langenhoven.

9. Dan Greaves (Great Britain, discus F44)

The three-times discus F44 world champion was in promising form in the lead up to Rio 2016, regularly throwing over the 60m mark. In the build-up to the Games he acknowledged his ultimate aim was to throw 65m, but 59.57m proved his best in Rio, enough to secure bronze behind the USA’s David Blair and Trinidad & Tobago’s Akeem Stewart.

10. Branimir Budetic (Croatia, javelin F13)

A medallist at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, Budetic set a new world record on his way to world gold in 2015; he threw even further at the 2016 European Championships in Grosseto, Italy. Another podium finish at Rio 2016 – and perhaps even the gold medal – seemed to be on the cards for the Croatian, who carried his country’s flag at the opening ceremony. But it wasn’t to be as he finished in fourth place.

The London 2017 World Para Athletics World Championships takes place between 14-23 July.