UAE’s paralympic star Mohammed Alhammadi. — Supplied photo
A galaxy of stars including Paralympic and world champions will return to their happy hunting ground as the emirate gets ready to host the season opening 15th Fazza International Para Athletics Grand Prix – Dubai 2024 at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds on Tuesday.
The event, which is set to witness 573 athletes from 71 nations in action for four days, holds significance in gaining important world ranking points in the road to Kobe 2024 World Para Athletics Championships in May and Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in August.
The star-studded line-up includes legends like Marcel Hug of Switzerland, a six-time Paralympic champion and a regular at Dubai Grand Prix, who will be challenged by legendary British wheelchair racer David Weir.
Weir, one of the most successful and celebrated Para athletes in the history of the sport with 10 Paralympic medals, will be making his first appearance at the event and his presence will make the men’s 400m T54 races the highlights of the championships.
The women’s field include greats including Great Britain’s wheelchair racing legends Catherine Debrunner (women’s 400m, 800m T53) and Hannah Cockroft (women’s 100m, 800m T34) who will aiming to extend their good run in Dubai. They already have had a fabulous start to the season with gold medal winning shows in 12th Sharjah International Open Para Athletics Meeting 2024.
With teams like Great Britain, Japan, Algeria, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia sending sizeable number of athletes, the hosts will be fielding the biggest team of 47 with their Paralympic star Mohammed Alhammadi leading the charge.
The five-time Paralympic medallist will be in action on the opening day in men’s 800m T32 wheelchair race, challenging himself and his rivals including Paralympic champion Walid Ktila from Tunisia.
Al Hammadi will be aiming to have a better week after his bronze medal finish in Sharjah.
“The wheelchair races have become more competitive now with technology playing a big role in the power and speed of the racers. I hope I can produce a good timing here, a competition which I always enjoy participating. It’s going to be good races with a lot depending on how we tackle the wind,” Al Hammadi said.
While athletes praised the weather and track conditions, Paralympic star Cockroft was looking to build on a good start to the season, from Sharjah.
“I have been competing in these championships (Dubai) for eight years now. It’s always a good time to figure out where you are and where you need work on going forward,” Cockroft said.
“It’s a good track and always promises a good combination of different countries, different competitors, so you always going to get a good race here. The event is well organised and so, we are confident that the races are going to be well-run and it’s a good opportunity to go quick in a bright weather.”
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