The Dubai 2023 World Para Athletics Grand Prix came to a close with China returning to international competition after two years in style, picking up maximum number of gold medals at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds here.
The 70-strong Chinese delegation had plenty of Paralympic champions who lived up to the billing taking gold and Asian records, including Peicheng Deng (men’s 100m T36), Liu Li (men’s club throw F32, shot put F32), Zhou Guohua (women’s 200 m T11), Wen Xiaoyan (women’s 200m, long jump T37), Zou Lijuan (women’s javelin throw, shot put F34).
China’s Hao Wang also returned to one of his favourite venues where he became the world champion in 2029 to win gold medals in the men’s long jump T46 (6.67m) and men’s 100 m men final in 11,14 seconds.
Overall, China finished with 102 medals that had 42 gold, 36 silver and 24 bronze apart from their gold medals to top the podium, followed by Ukraine (24) and Uzbekistan (26 with 11 and 9 gold, respectively. Japan (17), Iran (15), Indonesia (9) are other Asian nations in the top 10 of medals standings.
Seven World Records, 45 Regional Records
Overall, the four-day event, the second World Para Athletics Grand Prix of the season, saw a total of seven world records and 45 regional records broken, including 25 Asian records. Iran Para athletes displayed a splendid performance with Vajiheh Houshmand breaking the world record in women discus F43 with a throw of 26.91 m, thrower Yasin Khosravi threw the shot put to a distance of 15.46 m for the new world record in men’s shot put F57 event.
Kuwait’s Faisal Sorour impressed with his powerful throw of 16.46 m in men’s shot put F38, enough for a new world record.
Meanwhile, Swiss wheelchair racing legend Marcel Hug, a six-time Paralympic champion, continued his amazing run at the United Arab Emirates setting two world record at the Dubai Club grounds. Hug raced the men’s 5000m T54 final in 9:21.47 mins to better his own world record set at Sharjah International Open Para Athletics Meeting. He had already broken the men’s 1500m T54 world record (2:43.37 mins) on the second day of competitions.
“I am very happy to break the world record again. I have already loved racing here and it has been amazing last few weeks. The timings are great too. I look to the big events like the World Championships in Paris,” said Hug, who was equally matched by his fellow wheelchair racer Catherine Debrunner, who too had an amazing two weeks at the United Arab Emirates.
Alhammadi, the hero for UAE again
Paralympic star Mohammed Alhammadi led the home team’s medals with a gold medal in men’s 400 m T34 final, and he was joined on top of podium by Khalid Almarqzooqi (29.36s) who took the first gold for UAE in the men’s 100 m final RR1/RR2.
The silver medallist were Maryam Alzeyoudi’s (7.50m) in women’s shot put final F40, Ansaf Alnuaimi (6.47m) in women’s shot put final F34 while Rio 2016 silver medallist Noura Alktebi (6.02m) took the bronze in women’s shot put F32 finals so did Omair Younas (31.03 m) in men’s discus throw in men’s discus wheelchair finals F55 event.
Alhammadi, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver and bronze medallist, raced in 49.36 secs for the gold ahead of Tunisian Paralympic champion Walid Ktila (49.46 secs) and Canada’s Austin Smeenk (49.97 secs). “I am very happy to set an Asian record. This has boosted my confidence looking ahead to the season which has many important events including the World Championships and Asian Para Games. The 800m race was more about technique and I am happy to test my technique in that race. I will seat with my coach and decide on the work we need to do accordingly,” said the 37-year-old Alhammadi, who finished fifth in men’s 800m T34 race. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai 2023 Grand Prix had a participation of around 600 athletes from 60 nations, who were aiming for the Minimum Entry Standard towards qualifying for the upcoming World Championships in Paris and Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.