The UAE’s Rio 2016 hero Mohammed Al Hammadi claimed a victory and runners-up spot as the Dubai World Para Athletics Grand Prix got under way on Monday.
Al Hammadi, 31, was competing in his opening major international meeting since storming to gold in the T34 800 metres wheelchair in Brazil last September. He was denied a double success yesterday by Great Britain’s Craig Boardman in the 200m who lodged a leading 27.84 seconds, comfortably ahead of the home star’s time of 28.48.
But the Emirati was not to be denied in his trademark discipline later on in the absence of Tunisian great Walid Ktila, where he held off Kuwait’s Hamad Aladwani and Japan’s Hitoshi Matsunaga in an unclassified time. This was to provide the highlight of the first night – in which three world records fell – of the four-day event at Dubai Club for the Disabled, which has attracted 386 athletes and 50 medallists from last year’s Paralympics.
“This is a new training cycle for me,” said Al Hammadi about his results at the first event on the nine-stop grand-prix season. “After finishing at Rio, I stopped training and am now coming back slowly, slowly.
“I am not just training for one year – it is for four years.
“This is testing the competition for London [World ParaAthletics Championships from July 14-23].”
Al Hammadi is also scheduled to compete in the 100m and 400m later on in the tournament.
Meanwhile, there was more joy for the UAE as youngster Mohammed Al Kaabi enjoyed a breakthrough win in the F35/36/38 discus.
A colossal throw of 37.03m put him well ahead of Azerbaijan’s Rufat Rafiyev and Czech Republic’s Petr Vratil.
“I didn’t go to Rio,” said Al Kaabi. “But I will now go to London, Inshallah, and Tokyo 2020.
“I am planning to get gold in the shot put [today].”
The fans in Dubai were further entertained in the discus wheelchair F33 final, as a trio of Rio rivals mixed it up again.
All three medalists from the shot put were pitted against each other in a different event. This time the finishing order was reversed, Saudi Arabia’s Hani Alnakhli winning gold with a world record 31.03m, Algeria’s Kamel Kardjena taking another silver and Paralympic champion Daniel Scheil settling for bronze.
Despite this setback, there were no hard feelings from the German.
Scheil said: “It is a wonderful feeling to compete against these guys. We will see what will happen the next time in London.”
Algeria’s Paralympic shot put champion Asmahan Boudjadar set a new javelin F33 world record in Dubai 12 months ago and she did not disappoint this time either, adding a phenomenal 83cm to her previous javelin mark with her final throw of the day.
Boudjadar managed a massive 12.82m to take the win.
Kuwait’s Paralympic champion Ahmad Almutairi also got his season off to a flying start, smashing his own world record in the men’s 200m T33.
The 22-year-old, who won 100m T33 gold at last year’s Paralympics, knocked 0.61 seconds off the mark he set in Switzerland last May as he crossed the line in 29.35.