Local stars excelled on the opening day of competition (Friday, 22 June) at the Tunis Grand Prix in Tunisia, as world champions Walid Ktila, Yassine Gharbi and Rima Abdelli all notched up wins at the city’s Rades Stadium.
Multiple world and Paralympic champion Ktila (15.74) has a habit of winning at the Tunis Grand Prix, and the 32-year-old was at it again, finishing first in the men’s 100m T34/52/53, before adding victory over 800m later in the day when he clocked 2:00.53.
Ktila’s training partner Gharbi (1:40.10) was the clear winner in the 800m T54 - albeit significantly slower than the world record time set by the USA’s Daniel Romanchuk one week ago.
Gharbi is the reigning world champion in the 200m and 400m T54 however and smashed the world record in the latter event earlier this year; he is also ranked number one in the world over 200m, so expect the 28-year-old to impress in his favoured events over the next two days of competition.
World champion and current world number one Abdelli (7.63m) took first place in the women’s shot put F40 with teammate and world bronze medallist Raja Jebali (7.14m), the current world number four, in second.
There was further local celebrations as 22-year-old Samar Ben Koelleb (8.43m) – who clinched two bronze medals at the London 2017 World Championships to add to her silver from Rio 2016 –finished top of the podium in the women’s shot put F41 with her best throw so far this year.
But it did not all go Tunisia’s way as reigning Paralympic and world champion Maroua Ibrahmi suffered defeat at the hands of Morocco’s Fouzia El Kassioui in the women’s shot put F32/33.
El Kassioui had entered the competition as the best in the world this year, and her consistency over the six-metre mark, including a massive winning throw of 6.95m, proved too much for her rivals.
Just two centimetres separated Tunisia’s world silver medallist Hania Aidi (6.71m) and teammate Fadhila Nafati (6.69m) at the top of the women’s shot put F53/54. Aidi now sits second in the world rankings behind China’s Liwan Yang.
The host nation also came out on top as world bronze medallist Mohammed Ali Krid (31.42m) won the discus F33/34, while back on the track Fethi Zouinkhi (14.84) was the clear winner in the men’s 100m T54. Former Paralympic champion Mohamed Chida (2:00.76) took first place in the men’s 800m T38/46, and Rouay Jebabli (2:05.23) led the way in the men’s 800m T11/12/13.
International names also came out on top at the penultimate World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the season.
South Africa’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Hilton Langenhoven (11.34) saw off Turkish sprinter Hakan Cira (11.44) in the men’s 100m T12. In the women’s 200m T36/37/38/47, Langenhoven’s teammate Anrune Liebenberg (25.61) notched up yet another win.
The 25-year-old, who won in Paris (France) one week ago, sits top of the world rankings in her class.
Algeria’s Paralympic and world bronze medallist Madjid Djemai (2:13.32) won the men’s 800m T36/37 with Moroccan Hafid Aharak (2:14.64) in second place, while Bahrain’s Altamimi Hamad (2:08.84) won the 800m T20.
India won all five of their medals at last year’s World Championships in field events, and they continued to excel in Tunisia as world silver medallist Amit Kumar Kumar (29.42m) won the men’s club throw F51, while in the men’s shot put F57 Kuniya Puyil Sujith threw 11.47m with teammate Bhagat Singh (11.19m) in second place - the only Para athletes to go beyond the 11-metre mark.
Kuwaiti Mohammad Nasser (13.62m) won the men’s discus F32 and his countryman Abdullah Alsaif (21.56m) won the men’s discus F40/41; Iranians Eshrat Kordestani (8.83m) and Olad Mahdi (13.14m) won the women’s shot put F55/56/57 and men’s shot put F11/12 respectively.
Syria notched up wins as Alaa Abdulsalam (7.10m) threw furthest in the men’s shot put F52/53/54, and Sawsak Bassam (39.30m) won the men’s discus F42/44/46.
Algerian Bachir Mourad (10.44m) dominated the men’s shot put F55 and Oman’s Talib Al Balushi (7.97m) finished first in the men’s shot put F56.