1 Year to go Paralympics

One year to go!

7 September 2015

Today, as South Africa prepares for its track-campaign at the African Games in Brazzaville, Rio celebrates “one year to go” to the Paralympic Games in a unique fashion; a race to establish the fastest para-sprinters. Two 100 meter races, to find the world’s fastest male and female para-athlete across classifications, are being staged alongside the Lago Rodrigo de Freitas, in celebration of International Paralympic Day.

The event coincides with the opening of ticket sales and many world class athletes were invited to participate, including South Africa’s, Ilse Hayes. Hayes, who competes in the T13 class for the visually impaired, set the pace earlier this year when she ran the 100m in 11.89s at the IPC Grand Prix, Sao Paulo – becoming the world’s fastest female para-athlete across all classes. In August, this title was taken over by Cuban athlete, Omara Durand, when she set a time of 11.65s in Toronto.

Unfortunately Hayes – who had a superb season that included a World record, two African records, and two Sportswoman of the Year awards – had to withdraw from the Rio festivities, as well as the African Games, due to injury. “It is sad, but that is the way it goes in sport. It would have been an honour to represent South Africa in Rio, as well as defending my records in Brazzaville, but now I need to focus on World’s,” says Hayes.

The Paralympic Festival takes place over two days with the men’s and women’s 100m finals being a highlight. Apart from Hayes and Durand, contenders for the title of fastest female are Cuba’s, Yunidis Castillo, who holds the T47 (amputee) world record, and Brazil’s visually impaired, Terezinha Guilhermina – winner of three Paralympic and eight world titles. Favourites to take the male title include USA’s David Brown, (T11 – runs with a guide), team-mate Richard Brown, (T44 – below knee amputee), and Ireland’s visually impaired, Jason Smythe – who happens to be the fastest para-athlete on the planet. With the IPC World Championships in Doha less than two months away, and the African Games gaining momentum as I write, excitement is mounting for an even bigger, better Olympic and Paralympic Games.

#AG2015 #Doha2015 #RoadtoRio #Rio2016

Written for Backtrack by: Liezel van Rensburg