Dubai: Most of the 1,400 athletes representing 122 nations have arrived in Dubai for the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships to be held across the emirate from November 7-15.
In addition to the record participants, there are 1,100 officials and another 350-odd media personnel making this the largest ever in the history of the World Para Athletics Championships.
The events will be held at three venues — the Dubai Club for People of Determination, the Dubai Police Officers Club and Al Wasl Club.
Australia, China, Japan and the United States have landed with some of the biggest delegations, while Russia with the biggest contingent of 112, will be participating for the first time in three years following the lifting of the international ban due to the country’s anti-doping stance.
Algeria’s Abdel Latif Baka, Trinidad and Tobago’s Akeem Stewart, Namibia’s Ananias Shikongo, Ireland’s Jason Smyth, Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, Germany’s Markus Rehm, Brazil’s Petrucio Ferreira and the UAE’s Mohammad Al Hammadi are among the top athletes to watch in the men’s competitions.
In the women’s, much of the attention will be on American Deja Young, Latvia’s Diana Dadzite, China’s Hongzhuan Zhou, Britain’s Kadeena Cox, Italy’s Matina Caironi, Cuba’s Omara Durand, Australia’s German-born Vanessa Low and Tunisia’s Raoua Tlili, among others.
Thani Juma Berregad, Chairman of the Dubai Club for People with Determination, and Competition Director Majid Al Usaimi — who is also President of the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) — have been supervising preparations at all three venues for hosting possibly the biggest Para Athletics event in the history of the UAE.
“Our main focus at this point is to ensure that all athletes visiting feel at home here. We have been working around to clock to ensure that everyone coming to Dubai have a truly memorable experience,” Berregad told Gulf News.
“Besides the competitions, we have planned a string of activities to showcase the heritage, customs and culture of our country in the next few days,” he added.
The hosts’ challenge will be led by Al Hammadi, Noura Al Ketbi and Sara Al Senani when competition gets under way on Thursday. Al Hammadi is a three-time Paralympic medallist who took silver and bronze in the men’s 200m and 100m T34 categories at the 2016 London Games before going on to strike gold in the 800m at Rio 2016.
Al Ketbi and Al Senani entered history books by bagging silver and bronze in the Shot Put F32 and F33 respectively at the 2016 Games in Brazil.
The formal opening of the Championships will at the Dubai Club for People with Determination at 6pm on Thursday.