More than 360 Para athletes from 40 countries around the world head to Grosseto, Italy from Friday to Sunday for the sixth event on the 2019 Grand Prix calendar.
Ireland’s Jason Smyth, Frenchman Timothée Adolphe, Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka and USA’s Deja Young are among those joining a host of home-grown talent for three days of track and field action at the recently renovated Carlo Zecchini Olympic Stadium, the same venue that hosted the 2016 European Championships.
Here’s who to look out for:
Multiple Paralympic and world champion Smyth is one of a number of standout performers from the vision impaired classes (T11-13) who will race in Grosseto.
The Irishman, undefeated at major competitions and with no fewer than 19 major titles to his name, opens his season in Italy in the T13 class.
The USA send a number of their top athletes to Grosseto. In the T11 class – for Para athletes who compete with a guide – Paralympic and world champion David Brown lines up against France’s European champion Adolphe as well as former world champion Gauthier Makunda of France and long jump T11 world champion Lex Gillette.
US sprinter Young, who won 100m and 200m T47 gold at both Rio 2016 and London 2017, will start as favourite in her class – she faces the likes of Frenchwoman Angelina Lanza, a triple gold medallist at last year’s European Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Other sprinters in action include local star Martina Caironi (T63); South Africa’s world silver medallist Ndodomzi Ntutu (T12) and his teammate Mpumelelo Mhlongo (T44); Briton Thomas Young (T38) – who impressed on his senior international debut at Berlin 2018, winning double sprint gold; Algeria’s Mohamed Berrahal (T51) and the current world number one and two in the women’s 100m T13, USA’s Kym Crosby and South Africa’s Johanna Pretorius.
Middle-distance stars are out in force with Algeria’s Paralympic and world 1,500m T13 champion Baka in the line-up, as well as two-time world 1,500m T38 silver medallist Louis Radius of France and Cristian Valanzuela, Chile’s first ever Paralympic Games gold medallist, winner of the 5,000m T11 at London 2012.
Tunisia’s two-time Paralympic champion Somaya Bousaid (T13) races over 1500m as well as 400m while Russia’s Elena Pautova, twice Paralympic and three-time world champion in the women’s 1500m T12, could be hard to beat in her events.
After Niko Kappel set a new shot put F41 world record of 14.11m in Germany last week, the focus turns to Briton Kyron Duke, who lines up in Grosseto having thrown a huge personal best of 14.53m in Portugal last month.
Noelle Lenihan (F38), Niamh McCarthy (F41) and Orla Barry (F57) provided Ireland’s three gold medals out in the field at Berlin 2018 and the trio are all in action in the discus throw events.
Italy’s top thrower Assunta Legnante will take on both the shot put and discus F11 with her focus on a golden double at Tokyo 2020.
Other top throwers include Belarus’ European champion Aliaksandr Tryputs (javelin F54); Luxembourg’s world and European silver medallist Tom Habscheid (shot put and discus F63) and USA’s three-time world champion Jeremy Campbell (discus F64).
Russia’s former world and European champion Evgenii Torsunov (T36) and USA’s Rio 2016 champion Roderick Townsend-Roberts (T46) are two names to watch out for in the long jump competitions.
Live results from each day’s action at the Grosseto Grand Prix can be found here.