Berck-Sur-Mer 2018 - Final competition schedule

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Berck-Sur-Mer 2018: Stage is set

Berck-Sur-Mer 2018: Stage set for first continental competition

More than 170 powerlifters from 33 countries ready for Euros

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By IPC

All is set for the first powerlifting continental competition of the year with the World Para Powerlifting European Open Championships set to get underway in Berck-Sur-Mer, France, on 25 May.

The event will run until 29 May and feature a total of 173 athletes from 33 countries who aim to win one of the 60 medals up for grabs across 20 events.

Berck-Sur-Mer 2018 is also an important step on the qualification pathway for all powerlifters hoping to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Paralympic and world champions will take part in the competition.

Home favourite, Paralympic and world champion Souhad Ghazouani will be the woman-to-beat in the up to 73kg. The 35-year-old aims to win her third successive European title.

Four years ago in Alexin, Russia, Ghazouani also set the current world record of 150kg in the category.

“This is a big unique opportunity because it will allow many people who I know to come and watch me compete,” she said. “Berck-Sur-Mer is only an hour from my home commune, Saint-Saulve, so it is a mini-trip to get there. I hope to set a new world record.”

It will be impossible for her opponents to beat her if she is in top form, even for Morocco´s Sanae Soubane, who ended sixth at last year´s World Championships in Mexico City.

Another big name will be that of Great Britain´s 2014 world champion Ali Jawad. The 29-year-old returned to competition at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games after missing out Mexico City 2017 due to his longest Crohn’s flare up since being diagnosed with the disease in 2009.

Now he is targeting success at the Europeans. “Even though my absence at international competitions could be seen as a negative, the time off made me reassess how I tackled my health in the past,” said Jawad, who will take part in the men's up to 54kg.

Great Britain will be hopeful of further success in the women's up to 45kg through Zoe Newson. “The only difference I found with myself between 2015 and 2018 is that I’m older. Now, I have notice that I have to take care of my body much more than few years ago,” she said.

“I attend to the physio at least once every week to prevent any potential damage.”

An epic showdown is expected in the women’s up to 50kg with Rio 2016 gold medallists Nazmiye Muratli of Turkey and Lidiia Soloviova of Ukraine facing each other.

It will be the first time in eight years that the two rivals meet at a major competition as Muratli decided to move up one category ahead of Berck-Sur-Mer 2018.

The last time they competed against each other was in the up to 40kg at the 2010 World Championships, with Muratli taking gold and Soloviova silver.

It will also be interesting to watch Poland's Marzena Zieba competing in the women’s over 86kg.

The 28-year-old seeks to retain the European title she won in 2015, motivated after taking silver at Rio 2016. She also ended fifth at Mexico City 2017, her best performance at a World Championships so far.

Another event to keep an eye on will be the men’s up to 59kg with a Latin American showdown between Chile's Juan Carlos Garrido and Brazil's Bruno Carra.

Their most memorable face-off came at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, with Garrido taking gold ahead of Carra.

Berck-sur-Mer 2018 will be the third European Open Championships since 2013, when the competition returned to the calendar in Alexin, Russia, after a six year hiatus.

All events will be streamed live on World Para Powerlifting's website and Facebook page.

Live results and a full competition schedule will be available on Berck-Sur-Mer 2018's website, where you can also find more information about the Championships.

Nottwil Grand Prix: More records to tumble?

Nottwil Grand Prix: More records to tumble?

Swiss track hosts almost 300 athletes over next three days

a female wheelchair racer punches the air as she crosses the line Hannah Cockroft heads a star-studded field at the Nottwil Grand Prix © • Getty Images
By IPC

The fifth World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the year takes place in Nottwil, Switzerland this weekend (25 – 27 May) as the countdown continues to the two major championships of 2018 – the European Championships and the Asian Para Games.

Nearly 300 Para athletes from 40 countries will descend on the Swiss lakeside town and to the track which has seen more than 30 records broken in the past three years.

Here are some of the events to look out for:

Sprints

Multiple Paralympic and world champion Hannah Cockroft heads up the women’s T34 sprints, while in the women’s 100m T54 there is a packed field including Finland’s London 2017 champion Amanda Kotaja and world bronze medallist Hannah McFadden of the USA.

The Netherlands’ Fleur Jong goes in the 100m T62 and Belgian Gitte Haenen, who set a new 400m T42 world record last year in her first race over one lap, takes on the 100m and 400m T63.

One of Para athletics’ biggest rivalries is in the men’s T51 class, where Belgium’s world and Paralympic champion Peter Genyn goes head-to-head with Finland’s former world and Paralympic champion, Toni Piispanen over 100m and 200m. Genyn broke Piispanen’s 100m world record earlier this month; Piispanen is yet to race this season but claims to be in terrific form having now fully recovered from shoulder surgery in late 2016. Watch out too for Algeria’s Mohamed Berrahal, who is always a big threat.

The three medallists from the men’s 100m and 200m T34 at London 2017 line up in Nottwil – with Tunisia’s Walid Ktila leading the way. Australia’s Rheed McCracken and the UAE’s Mohamed Alhammadi won world silver and bronze in the 100m, reversing their order over 200m. Don’t dismiss another Finn, Henry Manni, who won in Rieti, Italy, last weekend as is gearing up for the defence of his European titles in August.

Colombia’s Dixon Hooker Velasquez also arrives from Reiti where he enjoyed multiple wins – he will be the man to beat in the men’s T38 sprints.

Middle distance

Australia’s Madison de Rozario will be hoping to add to her outstanding season which has included 1,500m T54 and marathon gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and victory in the London Marathon World Cup.

The 24-year-old races in the 800m T53 as well as the 1,500m and 5,000m T54 (where T53 and T54 race together). In the two longer distances she will have the likes of local favourite Manuela Schaer and the USA’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden to contend with.

De Rozario’s partner Josh George races in the men’s 800m T53 against the likes of Thailand’s Paralympic champion Pongsakorn Paeyo.

The men’s 800m T54 is bursting with talent – world and Paralympic champion Marcel Hug is joined by the Netherland’s Kenny van Weeghel; Thai duo Rawat Tana and Saichon Konjen; Tunisia’s in-form Yassine Gharbi; Briton Richard Chiassaro; Germany’s Alhassane Balde; the USA’s up-and-coming talent Daniel Romanchuk; Frenchman Julien Casoli and a strong Japanese group led by Tomoki Susuki. It’s a similar case for the hotly anticipated men’s 1,500m T54 – minus Chiassaro – and with the addition of Canada’s star wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos.

Field

The Dutch team has a strong presence in the field events – Paralympic and world silver medallist Ronald Hertog competes in the long jump T64; Jelmas Bos in the long jump T37; Paralympic silver medallist Marlene van Gansewinkel in the women’s long jump T64 and Paralympic bronze medallist Lara Baars in the women’s shot put and discus F40.

Colombia’s Paralympic javelin F34 champion Mauricio Valencia won all three of his field events in Rieti last week; he throws the shot put, javelin and discus in Nottwil too and faces tough competition from Morocco’s Paralympic shot put F34 champion Azeddine Nouiri.

Luxembourg’s world and European silver medallist Tom Habscheid (shot put and javelin F63), Germany’s Thomas Ulbricht (javelin F12) and Poland’s former world champion Tomasz Paulinski (shot put and discus F35) are also in action.

Hannah Cockroft - London 2017

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<P>Hannah Cockroft - London 2017</P>
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a female wheelchair racer punches the air as she crosses the line
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<P>Hannah Cockroft heads a star-studded field at the Nottwil Grand Prix</P>
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Berck-Sur-Mer 2018: Soloviova's medal hopes

Berck-Sur-Mer 2018: Lidiia Soloviova targets medal

Paralympic champion seeks to bounce back after missing podium at 2017 Worlds

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By IPC

“I am feeling good, ready for the competition,” said Lidiia Soloviova.

Six months ago, the Ukrainian powerlifter suffered a shoulder injury. As a result, she ended fourth at the Mexico City 2017 World Championships, the first time she missed the podium at a major international competition.

But the three-time Paralympic champion is now back to full fitness and looking forward to showcasing her strength at the European Open Championships in Berck-Sur-Mer, France, tomorrow (25 May).

“That injury prevented me from competing the best I could in Mexico City, which is why my performance was not great. But I am fully recovered now and anxiously waiting for the Europeans to start,” she said.

Soloviova will face tough-opposition from also Rio 2016 gold medallist Nazmiye Muratli as the Turkish moved up one category to the women's up to 50kg ahead of Berck-Sur-Mer 2018.

“Muratli is a great competitor and a champion. We will see how everything goes at the Europeans but it will be an interesting fight to watch,” said Soloviova.

At 40 years old, the 2015 European champion has won every possible title. But she has no secrets to staying motivated.

“Basically I just enjoy raising the bar, it is such a good feeling,” she said. “I am passionate about the sport and like being strong. I won three Paralympic, one world and one European titles. Now I want to be ready for Tokyo 2020, which would be my sixth Games.

“I actually thought about retiring from powerlifting after London 2012 because it is a physically challenging sport and you can sustain many injuries. We lift big weights. But I ended up continuing.

“Firstly, I want to go to Astana, Kazakhstan, for the 2019 World Championships. I need to go step by step and will see if I have real chances of winning once the competition kicks off. After that, I want to go to Tokyo 2020. Then I will see if I retire or not.

“But apart from winning trophies, I want through my performance to help raise awareness and grow the sport in my country and the world.”

All events will be streamed live on World Para Powerlifting's website and Facebook page.

Live results and a full competition schedule are available on Berck-Sur-Mer 2018's website, where you can also find more information about the Championships.

Para athletics in numbers: Schaer

Para athletics in numbers: Manuela Schaer

Stats and facts behind the multi-world and European medallist

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By IPC

Swiss racer Manuela Schaer will line up on her home track in Nottwil, Switzerland this week for the fifth World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the year, which starts on Friday (25 May).

Here are the stats behind the 33-year-old wheelchair racer.

31 - The number of marathons Schaer has competed in during her Para athletics career, having raced her first in 2013. She won London, Berlin and New York in 2017 and Tokyo in February this year.

1998 – The year Schaer took up Para athletics, at the age of 14. She has paraplegia as the result of a playground accident in 1993 and competes in the T54 class for wheelchair racers.

7 – Schaer has seven World Championship medals, including marathon gold which she won in 2013.

42 – Schaer’s favourite racing distance – in kilometres – which equates to 26.2 miles, or a marathon.

2 – Crashes in her career – “One on the track because it was rainy and slippery, and the other on the road, because I just couldn’t make the turn and I headed straight for the crowd!”

3 – The number of spare tyres the Swiss racer takes to competitions.

1:28:17 – Schaer’s best marathon time, clocked in Boston (USA) in 2017 when she became the first woman to go sub 1.5 hours.

4 – Schaer won a clean sweep of four titles at the Swansea European Championships in 2014, winning in the 400m, 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m T54.

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