UAE Mohammed Al Hammadi (second right) poses for a picture with the officials after the presentation ceremony.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Dubai 2023 World Para Athletics Grand Prix came to a close with host UAE finishing with six medals, including two gold, at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds here.
Paralympic star Mohammed Al Hammadi led the home team’s medals tally with a gold medal in men’s 400 m T34 final, and he was joined on top of podium by Khalid Al Marqzooqi (29.36s) who claimed the top position in men’s 100 m 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 wheelchair F55 event.
Hammadi, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver and bronze medallist, raced in 49.36 sec 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,” said Hammadi.
On the top of medals table, China finished with 102 medals that also had 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. UAE eventually finished in 14th place.
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, 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 with Swiss wheelchair racing legend Marcel Hug breaking two world records.
Six-time Paralympic champion Hug continued his amazing run at the UAE setting another world record – racing the men’s 5000m T54 in 9:21.47 mins – on the final day of the GP. Hug has 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 took two gold medals including a new world record in the 400m (50.17s) T53 race and set her second-best timing in the 800m (1:42.09 min).
Iran Para athletes also impressed with record-breaking shows, thanks to Vajiheh Houshmand who set a new world record in women discus F43 with a throw of 26.91 m, while thrower Yasin Khosravi threw the shot put to 15.46m for a new world record in men’s shot put F57 event.