UAE’s Paralympic star Mohammed Hammadi in action on the first day of the tournament.
Paralympic star Mohammed Hammadi settled for the silver medal as the hosts United Arab Emirates opened their campaign with three medals on the opening day of the Dubai 2022 World Para Athletics Grand Prix – 13th Fazza International Para Athletics Championships here Monday evening.
However, it was Colombia’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion Jose Gregorio Lemos Rivas and Algeria’s Safia Djelal who stole the limelight on the opening day setting new world records on their way to win gold medals.
The 30-year-old hurled the javelin to a distance of 60.58 m in his fourth throw. Besides there were six other continental records on the day.
Hammadi, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics silver and bronze medallist, finished second to his arch rival Walid Ktila (1:44.33min) from Tunisia, the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist in 100m, in a closely fought men’s 800m wheelchair T34 finals.
The UAE star finished the race in 1:44.47mins, just .14 milliseconds behind the Tunisian. Great Britain’s Andrew Small took the bronze in 2:11.52mins.
“I am happy to finish second. I want to take step by step; first it was Sharjah International, now here. These small steps are important as I prepare for the big one, the Paris 2024 Paralympics. Everyone wants to win the gold, but the process to achieve it is more important. So, I am focusing on the process of attaining the gold and keeping myself calm and patient,” said Hammadi, who also has eyes on the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games gold.
“This year we have the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou and this event will be good warm up going ahead into the season. I have just started my training and want to go step by step. I am not thinking too much about the result here but the focus will be to get consistent results; control my body and mind,” he added.
UAE took the other two medals in men’s javelin wheelchair men final F33 through Ahmed Alhosani and Ahmed Almaazmi who claimed the silver and bronze medals with throws of 17,99 m and 17,21 m, respectively. Germany’s Daniel Scheil took the gold with a throw of 22.50 m.
Meanwhile, Thailand as expected claimed the 1-2-3 places in men’s wheelchair 800m T53 final with their Tokyo 2020 Paralympic star Paeyo Pongsakom (1:38.36min) taking the gold ahead of Masaberee Arsae (1:41,25min) and Sopa Intasen (1:41.51min).
Among other top names, Great Britain’s women’s wheelchair racing legend Hannah Cockroft raced to the women’s 800m T34/53 gold in 1:53.26mins.
The Championships, hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, kicked off the World Para Athletics’ Grand Prix season with around 500 para-athletes from 43 nations in action at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds this week.
The Championships hold significance as athletes will aim to achieve Minimum Qualification Standard for this July’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, this October.
In women’s event, Australia’s paralympic star Angela Ballard would be the favourite in women wheelchair races. Indonesia’s Asian Para Games gold medallist sprinters Putri Aulia and Karisma Evi Tiarani would be ones to watch in women’s 100m races.
Looking ahead to an action-packed week, Thani Juma Berregad, Chairman of the Fazza Championships said: “The Fazza Para Athletics Championship has been an important event in our calendar. And the event has grown over the years with paralympic and World champions now being a regular in the line-up.
“This event was also the stepping stone towards hosting a successful World Para Athletics Championships in 2019. I hope the event continue to produce many more paralympic champions. My best wishes to the participating athletes.”
Majid Al Usaimi, Director of the Fazza Championships added: “After the Tokyo 2020 paralympics, the athletes are eager to get back to the competition mode. With some of the big events lined up later this year including the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games, the Fazza Championships is important in terms of analysing their game and work needed to be done.”