Most famous for its football club, Bayer Leverkusen is also home to some of the world’s biggest Para athletics stars. Every year, the German club welcomes international stars to a traditional meeting and the 2022 edition of the Para Leichtathletik Heimspiel will see plenty of them on Friday (1 July).
Ninety-nine competitors from 10 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe will be present including 61 German athletes.
Johannes Floors is one of the Leverkusen-based Paralympic champions in action. Last month, the German sprinter broke the world record in the men’s 200m T62 clocking 20.69 at a national competition in Regensburg.
Floors will also run the 100m and the 4x100m relay alongside. Tokyo 2020 gold medallist in the 100m T64 Felix Streng will first compete against Floors and then join him in the relay.
Another member of the German relay team and Leverkusen-based star is long jumper Markus Rehm. He will be keen to set a new world record in the men’s T63 class having recently jumped 8.66m in a non-official competition in Austria.
His record still stands at 8.62m set last year at the European Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
“That [Leverkusen meeting] is super important. And simply beautiful too,” Rehm told German TV ZDF. “I'm usually very busy giving tips about prostheses and training. I think that's cool, I'm happy when people come to me for advice, that's an honour.”
On field events, Germany will be represented by Rio 2016 gold medallist and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist in the men’s shot put F41 Niko Kappel. He is also the world record-holder (14.99m) from this year’s Nottwil Grand Prix in Switzerland.
Paralympic champion visitors
Among visitors, two sprinters will be keen to boost their preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Great Britain later this month. Ali Smith will be competing in the women’s 100m and 200m multiclass races; Zac Shaw in the men’s 100m.
Japan will be represented by four athletes, including Rio 2016 medallist Sae Tsuji and Dubai 2019 World Championships medallist Tomomi Tozawa.
The women’s 100m will see Italy’s Monica Contrafatto, bronze medallist in the T63 race at Tokyo 2020. Other five Azzurri athletes travelled to Leverkusen.
Neighbours Netherlands are once again sending a strong team to the Para Leichtathletik Heimspiel.
Paralympic champion Fleur Jong will be competing in three events, including the 100m in which she broke the women’s T62 world record at the Paris Grand Prix in June (12.56).
Dual Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Marlene van Gansewinkel is returning to action and will be facing Jong in the 100m and 200m, then teaming up with her in the 4x100m relay.
Local start Irmgard Bensusan will be their main rival in Leverkusen.
Bronze medallist at Tokyo 2020 in the long jump T63, Switzerland’s Elena Kratter is another star in action in three events on Friday.
Denmark’s Daniel Wagner or South Africa’s Mpumelelo Mhlongo are also among the Paralympic medallists travelling to Germany.
The Para Leichtathletik Heimspiel will be streamed live on YouTube.
More information and complete results are available here.