Paralympic stars return for Fazza Dubai World Para Athletics Grand Prix


UAE players attend a training session ahead of the Fazza 14th Dubai World Para Athletics Grand Prix.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Paralympic stars will return to one of their favourite hunting grounds when the Fazza 14th Dubai World Para Athletics Grand Prix begins at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the championships will have around 700 Para-athletes from 66 nations vying for top honours. While for many, the Dubai 2023 Grand Prix will serve as a season opening event, others will aim for minimum entry standards to qualify for the upcoming World Championships in Paris and Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Five-time Paralympic medallist Mohamed Al Hammadi will lead the local challenge and compete in men’s 400m and 800m T34 wheelchair races, hoping to analyse his form in an important year which has the World Championships in July and Asian Para Games in October.

“I am not focusing on my result or timing here. This is the start of the year and a Paris 2024 qualification year, so I want to analyse my form, wheelchair, and position in this championship,” said Hammadi who had a decent campaign at the recent Sharjah International Open Para Athletics meeting 2023.

“This is a big competition and it’s good for me to test my skills and wheelchair. I have been looking to change my wheelchair for some time now. This event will give a good idea of my wheelchair, my hand position and where I need to make the changes.

“The competition for wheelchair racing has become wider and it’s not about Walid Ktila and me, there are many others who can give a tough fight like athletes from Thailand, Canada. Even China is competing after a long time in this championship, so it will be nice to see everyone perform here,” said the 37-year-old star from Al Thiqah Club who will have to face a strong challenge from his arch-rival Ktila, who opened the season with twin gold at Tunis GP.

Hammadi will be joined by former Paralympic medallist Noura Alketbi (women’s shot put F32) and Sara Aljneibi (women’s javelin, discus throw F33) besides home-grown stars like Siham Alrasheedy (women’s discus throw F57) and promising Mohmmed Albalushi (men’s shot put and Club throw F32)in the 55-member UAE team.

Among the top names, eight-time Paralympic champion Omara Durand (T12), the only Cuban athlete in the Grand Prix, is expected to steal the show in women’s sprints, while Britain is expected to rule the T34 wheelchair races with seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft will face strong competition from compatriots Kare Adenegan and Fabianne Andre.

The limelight will be on the 70-member China team who will compete in an international competition after two years. The team have several Tokyo 2020 gold medallists including Deng Peicheng (100m T36), Di Dongdong (long jump T11), Liu Li (shot put F32) and Zhu Dening (long jump T38), besides top women Para-athletes including Xia Zhou (100m and 200m T35), Yiting Shi (100m and 200m T36) and Zhaoqian Zhou (100m and 1500m T54).

“We are very excited to be here. It’s been three years since the team last took part in Dubai, and for the last two years they have not participated in any international meet. This is an important event for us as we are aiming to get our young athletes to get classified besides giving them exposure. The field looks strong; and it will be a great opportunity for the players to test their skills and younger ones to get some experience,” said China coach Huang Peng.



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