Dubai: The UAE’s middle-distance Paralympic champion Mohammad Al Hammadi helped himself to his second silver medal and Italy’s Ambra Sabatini set a new world record on the penultimate day of the 12th Fazza — Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix.
The UAE recorded a dual success in the men’s 800m T34 men’s wheelchair race as Al Hammadi took his second silver of this competition in a time of 1:47.46 mins to finish behind his Tunisian rival Walid Ktila (1:38.43), while Ahmad Nawad (1:53.35) got the bronze.
Italian Sabatini set a world record in the women’s 100m T62/63/64 with a new time of 14.59 seconds as India continued with their fine showing picking up another four medals at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds.
The intense rivalry between Ktila and Al Hammadi resulted in the Tunisian setting a new African record with his new time of 1:38.43.
“Winning is always on my mind while heading into every race. Competitions likes one are meant to help us test our own strengths and implement tactics during the bigger ones,” said Ktila. “Al Hammadi is very intelligent and a nice human being. We are both friends on and off the field, and this happy rivalry between us can only help us take our sport to a higher level.”
Al Hammadi beat Ktila for the gold in the 800m at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.
The second medal for the host country — also a bronze — came through Aisha Salem Al Kha’aldi when she claimed third place with a distance of 8.59m in the women’s F33 wheelchair javelin throw. Sara Al Senaani missed out on a medal for the UAE as the Abu Dhabi athlete came in fourth with a throw of 8.25m.
The eventual gold medallist was Fouzia El Kassioui as the Moroccan had a distance of 14.78m — a new African record.
Much of the attention, however, was on Italian teenager Sabatini as she did enough for a gold. “I feel very excited. I didn’t realise my finish time as my attention was just to put all my energy to set a good timing here,” she said. “I am really happy now to see that I got a new world record. This is my first international competition and this gold medal and a world record will give me enough motivation to start my preparations for Tokyo 2020.”
Making her international debut, the 19-year-old from Livorno clocked 14.59s to clinch gold and better the previous record of 14.61 set by fellow Italian Martina Caironi. Elena Kratter and Sofia Gonzalez, both of Switzerland, followed in 16.40 and 16.84 respectively for the silver and bronze medals.
Meanwhile, India’s gold medal tally swelled to nine thanks to fine javelin throws from Navdeep Navdeep in F41, Ajeet Singh in F46 and Sandeep Sandeep in F64 categories, respectively. Navdeep and Arvind secured two quota spots for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. India now has 17 medals.
Meanwhile, world champion javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar (F46) had to be satisfied with a bronze.
Navdeep, whose first international event was the 2017 Asian Youth Para Games also in Dubai, produced a brilliant throw of 43.58m in his third attempt to take the gold and secure his spot at this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo in the men’s javelin F41 event.
Arvind was the other athlete to make the cut for Tokyo with his distance of 14.05m putting him in fifth place, but just enough to attain the minimum qualification standard and seal a spot in the men’s shot putt F35/36 event.
In the men’s Javelin F38/F42/F44/63/64, Chaudhary hurled the spear to a distance of 61.22m, though much less than his world record effort of 66.18m, but enough to take the gold. The Indian’s effort was better than Columbia’s Luis Fernan Lucumi Villegas (54.95m), who set a new American record, and Chaminda Hetti Arachchige of Sri Lanka (56.34m).
Ajeet sent the spear to a distance of 58.76m to finish ahead of Sri Lanka’s Gamini Ketawala (58.55m) and fellow Indian Gurjar (57.74m) in the men’s Javelin F46 final. Desai came in later and added a fourth gold to India’s medal tally while clocking 24.96s in the men’s 200m T64.