Tunisian athletes look to shine on home Grand Prix

The third Grand Prix stop of the IPC Athletics season will be in Tunis, Tunisia, and will feature world and Paralympic medallists. 24 Mar 2016
Walid Ktila of Tunisia won all four of the events he took part in over the three days of track and field action at the Rades Athletics Stadium.

Walid Ktila of Tunisia won all four of the events he took part in over the three days of track and field action at the Rades Athletics Stadium.

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More than 220 athletes from 21 countries will line up for the third Grand Prix of the 2016 IPC Athletics season, which starts on Thursday (24 March) in Tunis, Tunisia.

The event – which doubles as the 10th Tunis International Meeting – features a host of world and Paralympic medallists all hoping to make a big impression in a momentous year of para-athletics, which climaxes with the Rio Games in September.

Here are some of the key names to look out for over the three days of competition at the Olympic Athletics Stadium in Rades:

Walid Ktila - TUN (T34)

Tunisia’s top wheelchair racer looks invincible these days. The 30-year-old won four out of four golds at last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and holds the world record in all four events too – the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m T34.

Winner here last year, Ktila will be hoping to give his home fans something to cheer about once again as he takes on the 100m.

Abbes Saidi - TUN (T38)

Another Tunisian who topped the podium at the 2015 World Championships was middle distance runner Abbes Saidi. The 33-year-old won 1,500m T38 gold and 800m T38 silver in Qatar and has plenty of major international experience to his name, having competed at three Paralympic Games and four World Championships.

Mehmet Oner – TUR (T13)

At just 21-years-old, Oner shows plenty of promise for the future. He is already the reigning European 1,500m T13 champion. The Turkish athlete will be hoping to follow on from his success at last week’s Fazza Grand Prix in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he won the 800m and finished second behind Moroccan El Amin Chentouf over 1,500m. He takes on the 400m and 800m in Tunis.

Daniel Pek – POL (T20)

Poland’s Paralympic 1,500m silver medallist races over the same distance in Tunis and he will be hoping to make his mark this year after finishing fifth at the 2015 World Championships in a season’s best 4:00.31.

Samir Nouioua – ALG (T46)

The Algerian distance runner has multiple world and Paralympic titles to his name and will be a force to be reckoned with for his opponents, having ended last season with 1,500m T46 global gold in championship record time (3:53.36). Nouioua races over 1,500m and 5,000m at the Tunis Grand Prix in a field that includes Rwanda’s Hermas Muvunyi and Turkey’s Bayram Yilmaz, who finished fourth and sixth respectively behind Nouioua in Doha 2015.

Maciej Sochal – POL (F32)

The world and European bronze medallist in the men’s club throw F32 comes up against Algeria’s Paralympic shot put F32/33 bronze medallist Mounir Bakiri. In fact, the pair line up in both the shot put and club throw events, with Sochal arguably holding the advantage over his rival having finished ahead in the 2015 world rankings.

Edmilsa Governo – MOZ (T12)

The 18-year-old only made her senior international debut in Portugal in 2012. Since then, the Maputo-based sprinter has gone from strength to strength, setting a new African record as she clinched world bronze in the 400m T13 at Doha 2015; she added to the gold medal she won over 200m at the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo, just a few weeks earlier. She takes on both the 200m and 400m in Tunisia.

Maroua Ibrahmi – TUN (F32)

Doha 2015 was Ibrahmi’s third World Championships, which was the third time she won club throw gold. The 27-year-old Tunisian also topped the podium in the shot put F32 in Qatar, and will be tough to beat in both events in Tunisia this week.

Raoua Tlili – TUN (F41)

The reigning shot put and discus F41 world champion will be hot favourite for success on home soil at this week’s Grand Prix – although she will have to get past the woman who won discus silver behind her at Doha 2015, fellow Tunisian Fathia Amaimia.

Hania Aidi – TUN (F54)

The three-time javelin world champion has yet to win a Paralympic title. She finished second at Beijing 2008 and at London 2012, and will be hoping third time is a charm this year. Aidi added 41cm on to the javelin F54 world record at Doha 2015 in a thrilling competition against China’s Paralympic champion Liwan Yang.