UAE National Paralympic Committee (UNPC) officials will travel to Germany later this month to officially sign the contract that will see Dubai host the World Para Athletics Championships in 2019.
Last week, the World Para Athletics announced the Emirate will stage next year’s showpiece event from November 7 to 15 which will be the last opportunity for athletes to press their case for selection ahead of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
UPC vice-president Majid Rashed confirmed the country’s governing body will put pen to paper in Germany by the end of the month following the verbal agreement.
“We will be going to Germany later this month and only after that we will reveal more information about the championships,” Rashed, who is also CEO of the Dubai Club for People of Determination, told Sport360.
“It’s just a verbal approval between both parties and we will sign the deal at the end of this month.”
The championships will take place at the brand new athletics stadium – Dubai Club for People of Determination with more than 1,300 athletes from more than 100 countries set to compete. It will be the first time the event will be held in the UAE.
Speaking to the World Para Athletics website, Rashed added: “We are honoured to be trusted with such a prestigious event within the world of Para sport and are looking forward to welcoming the world to Dubai. As a club and as emirate, we have a long tradition within our organisation of delivering world class sporting events. We will build on what we have learned from hosting the Para Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships and our annual World Para Athletics Grand Prix, ensuring that this championship builds on the success of previous editions and the athletes inspire the world.”
And NPC president Mohammed Al Hameli, who is also a member of the International Paralympic Committee, is delighted that Dubai will get the chance to stage a global competition.
“We are very proud to have Dubai and the United Arab Emirates hosting for the first time the World Para Athletics Championships,” he told the World Para Athletics website.
“It is an amazing opportunity to showcase the development of Para sports in Dubai and in our country. The participating nations and their athletes will find world class facilities to be able to perform at their best. It will also be a great opportunity for the people of UAE and the citizens of Dubai to watch some of the world’s best athletes in action.”
It was another hot evening in Dubai but that didn’t stop the athletes putting on impressive displays in the final round of the Ultimate Athletics’ Race Night on Thursday.
More than 200 participants descended on Dubai Sports City for the sixth and last round of the 2017/18 season, which began back in October.
One of the main events of the night was the Ultimate 60m Masters final. Designed for men above 30 years, who don’t necessarily train in athletics, the fastest eight of the previous five Race Nights qualified for the title decider.
And it was Rafael Roots who reigned supreme winning the duel in 7.31 seconds. The 34-year-old is a coach for Nike Running Club and said it was a “great feeling” to be running again after stopping when he was younger.
“It’s been a long time. I used to do athletics when I was a kid and then I stopped because I got injured when I was 24,” he said. “Then I came back to do running again.
“I want to say a big thank you to Lisa (Campbell, founder of Ultimate Athletics) and everyone for bringing us together. They took the initiative and it’s really kicked off. It’s a great feeling to run here and brings back some memories.”
In the Junior division, it was a season to remember for Anabel Kimmel Wessollek and Yannick Kraus. Not only did they win multiple disciplines on Thursday, they also got their hands on a series of medals for their record-breaking feats.
For Kimmel Wessollek, she won the 80m, 150m and 300m duels as well, holding the record at Under-9 level in the 150m, 80m, 300m, hurdles and high jump.
“It feels really great to have won many medals,” she said, who along with other winners received her medals from Dannish Walker-Khan – a member of the winning U23 GB 4x100m team at the European Championships in 2013.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I train every Friday morning. I really enjoy sprinting and doing the high-jump and my aim is to keep improving and hopefully compete in the Olympics.”
For Kraus, the 11-year-old was first in the 80m, 150m, 300m and javelin. That’s no surprise considering the finished the season as the record holder in all those four events as well as the high jump, shotput and hurdles.
“It’s very exciting and I always try my best,” he said. “I sometimes get nervous before but I always had faith in myself. I want to continue developing and I hope to make an impact like Usain Bolt as I like the way he runs.”
He added: “This Ultimate Athletics season has been great. It makes you learn new things. When I first started, I didn’t know what the high jump was and now in two years, I can jump 1.38m.”
In the senior division, Megan Dingle tested herself in the 3,000m race and was the quickest female after clocking 11:22:21. The 14-year-old, who regularly competes in the 800m and 1,500m on Race Nights, was pleased by how she fared.
“I’ve been quite sick before and the heat didn’t help but I’m pleased with how I did,” she said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks with exams but everyone’s in the same position.”
Conor O’Donovan triumphed in the 800m race with a time of 1:59:87 and the Irishman was pleased by how he ended the season.
“It was good. I was aiming below two minutes and I hit that a couple of months ago and now back with a time of 1.59 so it’s been pretty good,” said the 17-year-old.
“My season was very up and down. I started playing the season playing rugby and it was really physical and my running didn’t improve for quite a while. I got to that peak around three months ago and now I’m there.”
Double Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya will have to take medication to lower her testosterone levels or move up to longer distances as a result of new rules announced on Thursday.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has introduced new eligibility regulations for female classification for athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) for events from 400m to the mile.
The regulations require any athlete who has DSD to be recognised “at law as either female or intersex” and to reduce their blood testosterone level below five nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) for a continuous period of at least six months.
This level must be maintained for as long as the athlete wishes to remain eligible for competition.
The regulations, approved by the IAAF council in March, will come into effect from November 1 and replace the previous regulations governing eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women’s competition.
Female athletes who do not wish to lower their testosterone levels will still be eligible to compete in non-international competitions, or in the male classification.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said: “As the International Federation for our sport we have a responsibility to ensure a level playing field for athletes. Like many other sports we choose to have two classifications for our competition – men’s events and women’s events.
“This means we need to be clear about the competition criteria for these two categories. Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes.
“The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD has cheated, they are about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition in the sport of athletics where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors.”
Sections of the report were published in the media in the UK and South Africa on Wednesday and shortly before its official release on Thursday, Semenya posted on Twitter: “I am 97% sure you don’t like me, but I’m 100% sure I don’t care.”
Although Semenya did not specifically link the post to the new regulations, it quickly received replies in support of the 27-year-old South African, who has been in the spotlight ever since it emerged she was subjected to a gender verification test at the 2009 World Championships, where she won the first of her three world titles over 800m, aged just 18.
The IAAF introduced a testosterone limit in 2011, with the International Olympic Committee following suit soon after, and Semenya was beaten by Mariya Savinova at that year’s world championships and the 2012 Olympics in London, although she was later upgraded to gold medals when the Russian was caught doping.
While Semenya has never confirmed it, it is widely rumoured within the sport that she took daily pills to suppress her testosterone and stay under the IAAF limit.
That changed, however, in 2015 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the IAAF’s rules on hyperandrogenism for two years following a legal challenge by Indian sprinter Dutee Chand.
A 2017 ruling saw that suspension extended by a further six months, during which time Semenya claimed another Olympic title in Rio and a third world title in London last summer.
Earlier this month, she claimed an 800/1500 double at the Commonwealth Games in Australia but afterwards hinted that she may change events.
Semenya said: “If we still have speed in the 800m then we will still continue with the 800m. If not, then we will go further, because obviously there is 5,000m and 10,000m. When I do my long runs I feel like I can feed into distance running.”
According to Dr Stephane Bermon from the IAAF medical and science department, the treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill.
“No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery,” Dr Bermon added. “It is the athlete’s responsibility, in close consultation with her medical team, to decide on her treatment.”