Nottwil, Switzerland, staged the first World Para Athletics Junior Championships from 3-6 August, gathering close to 270 young athletes from 40 countries, all aged under 20, many of whom have only recently launched their sporting careers and have shown great potential.
This landmark event makes it to No. 42 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) countdown of the Top 50 Moments of 2017.
One of the best performances in Nottwil was delivered by 15-year-old Ntando Mahlangu. Fresh from taking silver at the World Championships in London, Great Britain, the South African swept all his four events in Nottwil.
Mahlangu won the men’s long jump F42-F47, 400m, 200m and 100m T42/47 Youth (U18), setting a world record of 12.01 in the latter.
“I like big competitions like this one. They motivate me and I run good times, personal bests. When I run against good athletes, I clock my best times,” he said.
Despite his sporting success, Mahlangu has clear priorities. “I would not mind finishing school before focusing more on my athletics career if need be. School can give you many things. I won’t do athletics forever so I need to go to school and then university. When I conclude my career, I will need to go and work.”
The home crowd had to wait until the last day to celebrate their first world junior champion, with Licia Mussinelli (329 points) defeating USA’s three-time Nottwil 2017 gold medallist Hannah Dederick (315) in the women’s 1,500m T51-T54 youth (U18).
Damian Carcelen confirmed in Nottwil he is Ecuador’s main hope to seal their first medal at a Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020. The 19-year-old, who had won one silver at London 2017, secured the country’s two golds in the men’s 400m and long jump T20 junior (U20).
Switzerland’s Rio 2016 champion and wheelchair racing legend Marcel Hug attended the event to share some time with the athletes and give them advice. “It is great to cheer for the young athletes. They are the future generation. Maybe some of them will even be competing against me,” he said.
The USA ended top of the medals table with 18 golds, eight silvers and 10 bronze, followed by surprising Iran, who claimed 12 golds, five silvers and five bronze. Great Britain, Mexico and Colombia completed the top five.
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.