Three world records fell on the opening day (Monday 20 March) of competition at the Dubai Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), kicking off the 2017 World Para Athletics season in fine style.
Algeria’s Paralympic shot put champion Asmahan Boudjadar set a new javelin F33 world record in Dubai 12 months ago and she did not disappoint this time either, adding a phenomenal 83cm to her previous javelin mark with her final throw of the day.
Boudjadar managed a massive 12.82m to take the win at the season-opening Grand Prix, the first in a series of nine taking place around the world this year in the build-up to July’s World Championships.
The hotly contested discus F33 was won by Saudi Arabia’s Hani Alnakhli, who added 1.53m on to the world record mark he set back in 2015.
The 31-year-old, who won Paralympic silver at London 2012, only managed to register one mark in Dubai but his 31.03m effort was more than good enough to take the win.
Algeria’s Kamel Kardjena threw 24.62m for second place and Germany’s Daniel Scheil took third with 23.05m; the pair won Paralympic gold and silver respectively ahead of Alnakhli in the shot put F33 at Rio 2016.
Kuwait’s Paralympic champion Ahmad Almutairi also got his season off to a flying start, smashing his own world record in the men’s 200m T33.
The 22-year-old, who won 100m T33 gold at last year’s Paralympics, knocked 0.61 seconds off the mark he set in Switzerland last May as he crossed the line in 29.35.
Almutairi’s countryman Hamad Aladwani (T53) was first over the line in the T33/53 race, clocking 27.23.
Namibia’s star sprinters Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala also notched up wins at the Dubai Club for the Disabled track.
Paralympic silver medallist Nambala was the clear winner in the men’s 200m T13, clocking 22.08, while in the men’s 200m T11 Rio 2016 champion Shikongo came first in 23.50.
The 200m T12 race saw Great Britain’s Zachary Shaw impress with a 22.93-second win.
Paralympic and world 100m T38 champion Sophie Hahn took the tape in the 200m T20/38/44/47 clocking 26.57 with her teammate Kadeena Cox, the 400m T38 Paralympic champion, finishing third (28.27).
Fellow Brit Maria Lyle (T35) won the women’s 200m T35/36/37 (29.39); Paul Blake added to British celebrations as he won the men’s 200m T35/36/42 (25.73) ahead of his compatriot, T35 sprinter Jordan Howe (27.31). James Arnott (T46) won the 200m T44/46/47 (23.31).
There was further joy for British athletes as Craig Boardman won the men’s 200m T34 (27.84) ahead of home favourite Mohamed Hammadi (28.48).
The host nation did come out on top in the men’s 200m T54 however, as Mohammad Vahdani clocked the fastest time. The UAE man stopped the clock at 25.40, getting the better of a stellar field including Swiss racer Marcel Hug (25.73).
In other 200m races, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Sharahili finished top of the T20 class with a time of 23.51, while Briton Shaun Burrows was the fastest of the T38 sprinters, clocking 23.76 in second place.
Former world champion Sofiane Hamdi of Algeria (24.14) saw off Egypt’s Paralympic silver medallist Mostafa Mohamed (24.67) to win the 200m T37; Swiss wheelchair racer Beat Boesch won the T51/52 in 32.69 as Algeria’s Mohamed Berrahal notched up a new T51 African record of 41.19 to finish in fourth place.
Sweden’s Nathalie Nilsson (28.17) won the women’s 200m T12/13 and Nigeria’s Hannah Babalola (T54) won the 200m T53/54 in 30.48 seconds before going on to win the 800m T34/53/54 later in the day (2:01.2).
In the day’s other middle distance events, there was no surprise as local star Mohamed Hammadi took the win over two laps in the men’s T33/34/53 race. The Paralympic champion clocked 1:45.9 in the absence of reigning world champion Walid Ktila of Tunisia.
Turkey’s Muhsine Gezer (T20) won the 800m T11/12/13/20/46 in 2:31.03 ahead of Kenyan Paralympic silver medallist Nancy Koech (T11) who finished just over three seconds behind (2:34.31).
There were wins for Kenya in the men’s 800m T11/12 as Paralympic 5,000m champion Henry Kirwa (T12) clocked 2:04.3, and in the 800m T44/46, thanks to Wesley Kimeli Sang (T46) in 1:59.8.
Algeria notched up two more victories thanks to visually impaired athlete Fouad Baka (1:59.0) in the 800m T13/20 and T37 runner Madjid Djemai (2:09.1) in the 800m T36/37/38.
Japan’s Naoyuki Matsumoto (T52) won the men’s 800m T51/52 (2:26.1) and the men’s 800m T54 went to form as ‘Swiss Silver Bullet’ Hug finished first (1:38.7).
Out in the field, Algeria’s world silver medallist Lahouri Bahlaz came out on top in the men’s club throw F32. The 38-year-old’s sixth and final throw of 31.86m meant he finished more than three metres clear of the field as Great Britain’s Paralympic bronze medallist Stephen Miller settled for second place (28.82m).
Iran took the top two spots in the men’s shot put F12/13/20 as F13 thrower Amir Rahmati managed 13.09m (1061 points) and Paralympic shot put F12 silver medallist Saman Pakbaz threw 15.34m (893 points).
India has proved a winning nation when it comes to the men’s javelin F46 event – Devendra won the Paralympic title last year – and this time it was the turn of Sundar Singh Gurjar, who threw a massive 60.33m to take the win more than 10m clear of the field. Kazakhstan’s Pavel Sidorchuk (F57) managed 30.58m to take first place in the javelin F34/57.
The men’s discus F35/36/38 was won by the UAE’s Mohammed Al Kaabi (F36) with 37.03m (797 points); the shot put F52/55/56 went to form as four-time Paralympic gold medallist Aigars Apinis (F52) of Latvia won with a best of 9.88m (949 points).
Greek Paralympic javelin champion Manolis Stefanoudakis won the men’s shot put F54 (8.16m) and Great Britain’s Lorn Mayers (F42) threw 11.92m in the men’s shot put F40/41/42.
The women’s discus F55 was won by Bahrain’s Rooba Alomari (19.30m); Japan’s Yukiko Kato (F46) won the discus throw F37/38/41-46 with a best of 32.78m (847 points).
The second of four days of competition in the Middle East continues on Tuesday 21 March. Full results can be found at http://www.team-thomas.org/
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