The scene is set for a terrific season of Para athletics as three world records* fell on the first day of competition at the season-opening Dubai Grand Prix on Sunday.
Australia’s Vanessa Low announced her return to the World Para Athletics Grand Prix circuit in fine style with a new long jump F61 world record in the United Arab Emirates.
The 28-year-old Paralympic champion leapt a massive 5.05m with her second jump of the day – the first in her class to go beyond the five-metre mark.
“I’m returning to international action after a long time and it feels great,” said Low, who took two years out from competition in order to recover from a back injury she suffered in the build up to the Rio 2016 Games.
“I have worked a lot on my consistency. Reaching the five-metre mark was like impossible a decade back, but I am happy to get it right at the start of the season.”
There was another world record in the field thanks to F45 javelin thrower Irina Tychshenko, who threw 21.65m.
Records continue off the field
There was a new world record on the track too for Tunisia’s Walid Ktila.
The multiple world and Paralympic champion clocked 14.62 seconds in the men’s 100m T34 to reclaim the record from Australia’s Rheed McCracken (15.29), who had to settle for second place.
“It feels great. I am very happy. I have worked hard during my training. I will aim for another world record at the World Championships,” said Ktila, who knocked 0.18 seconds of McCracken’s previous best.
Meanwhile Kuwait’s Paralympic and world champion Ahmad Almutairi (17.06) continued his domination of the men’s 100m T33, despite recent injury concerns.
“It feels great to get a gold with just two weeks of training. I haven’t been training regularly because of a shoulder niggle since last March. It is big confidence booster for me going ahead in the season,” said the 24-year-old.
Best of the rest
In other sprints, Finland’s Toni Piispanen (20.70) got the better of Belgium’s Peter Genyn (21.13) in the men’s 100m T51; Japan’s Ito Tatsuya (17.96) set a new Asian record in the men’s 100m T52, and his teammate Tomoki Ikoma (14.24) finished fastest of the two men’s 100m T54 heats.
Australia’s world silver medallist Angie Ballard (17.06) took first place ahead of Turkey’s Hamide Dogangun (17.41) in the women’s 100m T53, although victory did go Turkey’s way thanks to Zubeyde Supergeci (16.53) in the T54 event.
Germany’s Lindy Ave (27.79) has been in winning form in nearby Sharjah already this week and she continued to impress with victory in the women’s 200m T37/38.
Briton Maria Lyle (30.18) took the win in the women’s 200m T35/36 while Algeria’s Sofiane Hamdi (24.18) won the men’s 200m T35/37.
Switzerland’s Marcel Hug (3:02.23) finished well clear of the field in the men’s 1,500m T54 and Australia’s Madison de Rozario (3:34.35) took the tape in the women’s event.
In the day’s RaceRunning events, there were wins for Norway’s Odd Markus Lutken (19.48) in the 100m RR2 and teammate Julie Saursaunet (20.50) in the women’s 100m RR1/RR3.
Back to the field, and the men’s shot put F40/41 went to form as Paralympic champion Garrah Tnaiash (10.18m) claimed gold.
It was a similar case in the women’s event - Tunisia’s multiple Paralympic and world champion Raoua Tlili (9.40m) finished nearly two metres ahead of her rivals and remains the one to beat in her class.
Algeria’s top Para athletes, renowned powerhouses in the field, were in typically fine form.
Reigning world champion Lahouari Bahlaz (10.37m) sealed the top spot in the men’s shot put F32; Paralympic champion Asmahane Boudjadar (6.02m) won the women’s shot put F32/33; two-time world champion Kamel Kardjena (10.12m) finished top of the podium in the men’s shot put F33 and Nadia Medjmedj (25.02m) won the women’s discus F56/57.
Australia’s world champion Jayden Sawyer (48.10m) was the stand-out winner in the men’s javelin F12/13/38; Bahrain’s Amal Ali (13.23m) took the win in the women’s discus F52-54, and Jaspreet Kaur Sran claimed a new F52 Asian record of 4.33m in the same event.
Competition continues through to Wednesday (27 February) and full results from the Dubai Grand Prix can be found online each day.
*records subject to ratification by World Para Athletics