World Para Athletics has announced that Paris, France, will be a new addition to the Grand Prix calendar for 2017 with an event being held in the French capital in late May.
In total there will be nine Grand Prix events in 12 weeks across four continents this year with all acting as stepping stones towards the World Para Athletics Championships which will take place in London, Great Britain, from 14-23 July.
The fifth annual Grand Prix season will begin in Dubai, UAE, between 20-23 March.
From there, athletes will head to Africa for the annual meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, between 13-15 April. Days later, from 20-22 April the Brazilian Paralympic Committee’s state-of-the-art training centre in Sao Paulo will stage the year’s third Grand Prix.
In May, there will be four Grand Prix taking place across three continents.
In Europe, one Grand Prix will be held in Rieti, Italy, from 5-7 May, whilst the Charléty Stadium Paris will stage its first World Para Athletics Grand Prix from 30-31 May. Between 12-13 May athletes will compete in Arizona, USA, and from 13-15 May in Beijing, China.
The Grand Prix season will reach a climax in June with Europe staging the final two meetings.
World records are likely to tumble between 2-5 June when the ultra-fast track in Nottwil, Switzerland, hosts its annual Grand Prix. Berlin, Germany, the host city of the 2018 European Championships, stages the year’s final Grand Prix from 17-18 June.
Ryan Montgomery, the IPC’s Director of Summer Sports, said: “Following the success of the Rio 2016 Paralympics - where athletes once again raised their performances to new levels - the 2017 Grand Prix season will bring together many of the world’s best Para athletes ahead of London 2017.
“The Grand Prix season has grown in size and stature each year since its launch in 2013 and we are excited that this year we will be heading to Paris for the first time. This year’s calendar is extremely compact – nine events in 12 weeks – all building up to this year’s World Para Athletics Championships in London.”
“This is excellent news,” said French T11 sprinter Timothee Adolphe about the new Paris Grand Prix. “This decision demonstrates France's desire to establish Para athletics on an international level.
“This event will help to change attitudes towards Para athletes and will increase the visibility of Para athletics.
“As a member of the local club, often training at Charlety, I know the set-up well. The track is fast and therefore conducive to performance. It is also a beautiful stadium, perfectly adapted to the practice of Para athletics and can accommodate a very large crowd.”
Launched in 2013, the first Grand Prix season attracted 1,004 athletes from 67 countries. Last year, the 10 events which covered all five continents saw participation rocket to 1,964 athletes from 108 countries.
In addition to the nine Grand Prix events and July’s World Championships, the 2017 season will witness the first ever Junior World Championships which will take place between 3-6 August in Nottwil, Switzerland.
The first cycle of the Abbott World Marathon Majors will also come to a close at April’s Boston marathon. The second series will begin days later with the Virgin Money London Marathon on 23 April.