Dubai: More than 1,500 of the best para-athletes from across the globe have confirmed for the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships, to be held in Dubai from November 7-15.
Traditional superpowers like the US, New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia and Germany have already confirmed their athletes for the nine-day competition that will be held simultaneously at three venues — Dubai Club for People of Determination (DCPD), Al Ghusais, Dubai Police Officers Club and Al Wasl Club — in the first half of next month.
The US, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany are among the early countries confirming their participation, and Thani Juma Berregad, chairman of the DCPD, was pleased at spelling out the figures much in advance.
“We always aim for the best and having these Games in Dubai is a source of pride for us as we have exceeded the target set. Today, we have the biggest-ever Games in the history of para-athletics with a lot of new countries confirming for the first time,” Berregad told media.
“Dubai hosting this event at the request of the international family as many of the international athletes were keen to return here due to the facilities we have offered them over the years, more specifically since we started organising the annual Fazza Championships since the past eleven years,” he added.
“These Games will not be just about Para-athletics and the movement, but also contribute to the tourism and economics of the UAE.”
The UAE and New Zealand will have contingents of 18 each, while Great Britain (42), Australia (37), Germany (32) and the US (43) are among those who have confirmed their presence when the opening ceremony is held at 6pm on November 7.
Among the stars are New Zealand’s Rio 2016 Paralympic medallists Holly Robinson, Anna Grimaldi and William Stedman, while Great Britain’s two-time Paralympic and world champion Jonnie Peacock will not be joining the squad due to a recent knee injury to the 26-year-old sprinter.
Among the Australian squad are three gold medallists from 2016 Rio including Brayden Davidson in the men’s long jump T36, Scott Reardon in the men’s 100m T42/63 and James Turner in the men’s 800m T36. Another Rio champion in the team will be long jumper Vanessa Low, who represented Germany at the last Paralympics, but will take part in her first major championships since accepting Australian citizenship.
“We have exceeded the number of participants by at least 300 per cent. As of now we have more than 1,500 athletes representing 123 countries confirmed, and we get another two nations letting us know in the near future,” Tournament Director Majid Al Usaimi said.
“In addition, we are expecting at least 350 media from abroad along with another 1,100 officials and 800 volunteers. Some two decades back we dreamt of a proper stadium to host big events. Today, we have this dream becoming a reality,” he added.