Dubai: The UAE bagged three medals, including a couple of silvers, as the 12th Fazza International Championships – Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix opened at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds late on Wednesday.
Of the three medals for the hosts, it was local favourite Mohammad Al Hammadi taking silver behind Tunisia’s multiple world champion Walid Ktila, while Mohammad Yousuf Othman came in third in the 100m T34 men’s. The UAE’s third medal on the opening night came from Noura Al Ketbi as she took silver in the women’s shot put final F32.
Al Hammadi, the celebrated middle-distance athlete from the UAE, clocked 15.97 secs to finish behind his Tunisian rival Ktila who went on to win gold in a time of 14.98 secs, leaving Othman for the bronze with a timing of 16.26 secs.
Al Ketbi’s silver in the women’s shot put final F32 came with a throw of 5.07m as the UAE athlete yet again finished behind Algeria’s Mounia Gasmi (5.71m), while Thekra Al Ka’abi (4.35m) took the bronze.
The entry of the Hope Probe into the Mars orbit is a reflection of our mission for our sport as well. We have the same hope and energy and we are looking to create a benchmark for everyone that Dubai can successfully host international events despite such challenging situations
The old rivalry between Al Hammadi and Tunisian legend Ktila was also renewed on the day. Both para-athletes will have another opportunity to target top honours as they stand on the start line for the men’s 800m T34 event.
“Walid is very strong and he is also very hardworking. I have to work on a plan now to overcome him in Tokyo 2020. I need to work harder in the next few months and perform my best at Tokyo 2020,” Al Hammadi related.
“The ultimate for me will be the 2020 Tokyo Games. It is there that I want to give my best shot,” the UAE athlete added.
Al Hammadi was not pleased with his performance on the opening night of the competition. “I am not very happy with my performance today as I was expecting a better time with my body feeling good to finally compete after a long time,” he said.
“This track is special to me as I have won three medals at the Dubai 2019 World Championships. 2020 had been very difficult for athletes while losing out on training and sitting at home doing nothing. Thankfully, Dubai started the new Para Athletics season and we’ve got a chance to perform in our home event,” he added.
There were two regional records set on the opening day, with Morocco’s Aissa Bentaleb (04:13.18s) and Redouane Hennouni Bouzidi of France (04:07.11s) getting their names against the African and European marks in the men’s 1500m T37 and men’s 1500m T38, respectively. Among other top names, Iran’s Paralympic silver medallist Hamid Amiri took gold in the men’s Javelin F53/54 with a throw of 30.96 metres.
Earlier, the competition was opened by Championship Director Majid Al Usaimi to coincide with the historic entry of the UAE’s Hope Probe into the Mars orbit.
“We’ve had a lot of challenges along the way while hosting a Championship of this magnitude. But we’ve never lost focus of what we stand to achieve on behalf of all our parathletes from across the world,” Al Usaimi said in his his opening address.
“The entry of the Hope Probe into the Mars orbit is a reflection of our mission for our sport as well. We have the same hope and energy and we are looking to create a benchmark for everyone that Dubai can successfully host international events despite such challenging situations,” he promised.