Ten things we’ve learned from the athletics season so far

The 2015 para-athletics season has been spectacular so far and is set to get even more exciting as we approach October’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar. 04 Jul 2015
A sprinter overtakes another runner on the 100m straight.

Marlou van Rhijn competing at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in the Netherlands.

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1. Walid Ktila is still the man to beat

Many thought 2015 would be the year that Ktila’s long dominance of the men’s T34 class would be broken with the likes of Australia’s Rheed McCracken, Switzerland’s Bojan Mitic and Finland’s Henry Manni showing vast improvements. However, the Tunisian just keeps getting better and this year has smashed his own 100m and 800m world records.

2. Women’s leg amputee sprinters are getting faster

The Netherlands’ Marlou van Rhijn and Italy’s Martina Caironi appear to have a contest going on this year for who can break the most world records. Van Rhijn has lowered her own 100m T43 record twice in 2015 and smashed her 200m best three times.

Likewise, Caironi broke her 100m T42 record at the Nottwil Grand Prix, and in the space of one month beat her own 200m world record three times, most recently at the Berlin Grand Prix.

3. The women’s T38 class is hugely competitive

At October’s World Championships in Doha the women’s T38 class is certainly one to look out for. In 2013, Great Britain’s Sophie Hahn won the 100m title and Brazil’s Veronica Hipolito the 200m. But the pair will not have it their own way, with Russia’s 100m Paralympic and European champion Margarita Gonchorova looking a huge threat alongside China’s 200m Paralympic gold medallist Junfei Chen.

4. The men’s 100m T43/44 world title race could be the fastest ever

Brace yourselves Doha 2015 - the men’s 100m T43/44 race could be the fastest race ever!

The US duo of Richard Browne and Jarryd Wallace, Great Britain’s world and Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock and Germany’s Felix Streng have all gone under 11 seconds this season. Throw into the mix the return of Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, who ran 11.00 after almost a year off, and the line-up for Doha is mouth-watering.

5. Tatyana McFadden might just be the best ever

After becoming the first woman to win six world titles in a single Championship in 2013, the US T54 athlete has continued to rewrite the history books. In May she improved her own 800m record and beat Chantal Petitclerc’s 11-year-old 400m world record. She now holds the 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m world records.

Combine this with her continued dominance of women’s marathon racing, and few would dispute that McFadden is the world’s best women’s wheelchair racer ever.

6. New long jump world records could be set at Doha 2015

Russia’s Margarita Goncharova broke the T38 record twice at the Berlin Grand Prix, and Italy’s Martina Caironi is now the joint holder of the T42 record with Germany’s Vanesaa Low after she leapt 4.60m at a meeting in Barcelona.

On the men’s side Brazil’s Rodrigo Parreira Da Silva set a new benchmark in the T36 class at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix and after breaking the long standing T42 world record in Leverkusen, Germany, Denmark’s Daniel Jorgensen improved it further at the Grosseto Grand Prix.

Germany’s Markus Rehm could be the star of show however. His 8.29m at a meeting earlier this year was a new T44 record which would have won him silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

7. Ilse Hayes is the world’s fastest female para-athlete

Few women in para-athletics have ever run the 100m under 12 seconds, but Ilse Hayes did so in style at April’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix clocking 11.89 to become the world’s fastest female para-athlete.

The question now is whether the South African T13 sprinter can retain this title at Doha 2015 with the likes of Brazil’s Terezinha Guilhermina, China’s Guohua Zhou and Cuba’s Yunidis Castillo all looking to go faster than ever before.

8. The men’s T54 class is strong in all events

It’s likely that the rivalry between Switzerland’s Marcel Hug and Great Britain’s David Weir will grab the headlines in Doha for all distances from 800m upwards, but the sprint races are likely to be equally competitive. With Finland’s Leo-Pekka Tahti, the Netherlands’ Kenny van Weeghel, Germany’s Markus Schuh and Thailand’s Saichon Konjen all going head-to-head, expect some very fast times and great rivalries.

9. A “rebuilt” Aled Davies can throw objects further

After adding two European titles to his many accolades in 2014, Great Britain’s Aled Davies lost 30kg in weight and put 6kg back on in pure muscle. The result is that he can throw objects far further! Already this year the 24-year-old has improved his own F42 world records in the shot put and discus. His is now targeting two world titles and to break the 16m barrier for the shot put and to go over 50m in the discus.

10. World records will fall at Doha 2015

There is no doubt about it, multiple world records will fall at October’s World Championships with para-athletes not only looking to win world titles but also meet the qualification criteria for Rio 2016. It is going to be brilliant!


The 2015 IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final will take place in London, Great Britain on 26 July.

The 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships will take place between 22-31 October in Doha, Qatar.