Mohamed Hammadi and Salem Al Shehhi kept UAE’s flag flying high with gold-medal winning performances on the fourth day of the inaugural IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai.
Paralympic star Hammadi completed a hat-trick at Police Officers Club in Dubai on Thursday with another comfortable win in the men’s 400m T34, clocking 54.76 leaving Kuwait’s Ahmad Al Mutairi (59.62) in the wake.
Salem Al Shehhi clinched double sprint gold with an impressive win in the 200m T54 to add to his 100m victory on Tuesday, clocking 27.06 edging his compatriot Rashed Aldhaheri (27.37) and Japan’s Yuki Nishi.
“I’m very pleased and happy with my performance since I’m the youngest competitor in this Championships. My preparations for the Rio Paralympics have begun in this Championshps,” said the 17-year-old schoolboy who practices at Sharjah’s Al Tiqqa Club for the Disabled.
The inaugural IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC).
The IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships is organized and supervised by the Dubai Club for the Disabled with the support of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, the DSC and the UAE Paralympic Committee.
The Official Sponsors of this Championship are as follows: Hamdan Bin Mohamed Heritage Center (HHC), Al Maktoum Foundation, Sheikha Maitha Centre for People with Special Needs, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Falcon City, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, BMW and Dubai Investments. Dubai Sports TV is the media partner.
“Dewa is always looking for any opportunity to show its social responsibility to this community. Anything of that sort is really a pleasure to be part of. You are doing your part to the community and country,” said Abdullah Saeed Obaidulla, a senior official of Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa).
China won six gold medals to move up to second on the medals table behind Iran, who produced five winners on the fourth day of competition.
Paralympic bronze medallist Juntingxian Jia began China’s gold medal rush edging out her teammate Yan Chen to win the 100m T11 in 12.54.
Wei Liu missed out on the Asian record in the men’s 100m T13 after clocking an impressive 11.22 while Beijing 2008 champion Zhang Zhen won a thrilling men’s 1,500m T11 clocking 4:17.97 edging out India’s Ankkur Dhama (4:18.42).
China secured two victories in the field too while Daqing Zhu won the sixth gold medal of the day clocking 12.5 in the women’s 100m T12 final.
Iran’s Ahmad Ojaghlou also clinch a double and just missed out on the Asian record powering home in 11.09 the 100m T47.
Arash Khosravi won the 100m T11 title in a close race clocking 11.96.
Iraq’s Abbas Al Darraji notched an impressive win in the men’s 400m T36/38 crossing the line in 53.87.
Saudi Arabia’s Saud Alwani produced for his terrific late charge in the men’s 400m T37 and virtually throwing himself at the line to take the gold in 1:01.10 from Thailand’s Sakphet Saewang.
“I will present this medal to my family and I promise that I will be a Paralympic champion in the future. I have only been racing less than one year,” said the 18-year-old.
India’s Asian record holder Deepa Malik (F53) was happy to win gold in the women’s javelin F53/54 with a best of 8.98m though disappointed at not improving on her record.
“Winning gold was an amazing experience. I learnt something new here because there are new rules in javelin throw. My best throw got disqualified because of raising of hip,” said Deepa who suffers from chest below paralysis.
“I have to design better belts for my body though I don’t have sensation below chest. I wanted to better my own record but that was a disappointed,” said the 47-year-old mother of two from Haryana who has qualified for Rio in the shot putt.
“My aim in Dubai has been successful. My aim was to break the 4 metre mark. I improved the distance by 37 centimetres which is a huge progress in shot putt,” said Deepa who won silver in the shot putt. “I will now enjoy Dubai because I have completed my events having picked up a gold and silver medal for my country.”
Pakistan picked up their first gold medal of the Championships thanks to a winning leap of 6.25m (983 points) by Haider Ali (T37) in the men’s long jump T36-38 which saw him qualify for the Rio Paralympics.
Long Jump gold medallist at the Para Asian Games in China in 2010, Haider is making a comeback of sorts after missing the Incheon Games two years ago.
“I’m very happy to have qualified for Rio. I will train hard to win a medal,” said the 28 -year-old from Gujranwala.
Pakistan also won a silver medal through Muhammad Awais in the Men’s Javelin Throw F37/38. China’s Dongquan An (F38) won the gold with a best throw of 44.88 while Awais (F37) threw a distance of 42.82.
Amara Indumathi Karunatilleke emerged as Sri Lanka’s golden girl by winning the women’s 400m T20/43-47 final in style.
The 29-year-old shrugged off the disappointment of missing out on gold in the combined Long Jump T20/T47 event on Wednesday with an emphatic win in her maiden international appearance in the 400m event.
“My target is the 2016 Rio Paralympics and I believe I can qualify,” said Karunatilleke who clockd an impressive winning time of 1:03.08 leaving behind Japan’s Anju Furuya (T20) 1:06.20 and Thailand’s Pagjiraporn Gagun (T46) 1:10.34 with an explosive run in the home stretch.
“My pet event is 100 and 200 but I skipped 100 to focus on 400 for the first time in an international event. I feel I can go far in the 400. That’s why I chose to do this event. I’m very happy to win an international event on my debut. I was determined to make an impact,” said Karunatilleke who won silver (Long Jump) and bronze (200m) at the Para Asian Games in Incheon in 2014.
Karunatilleke lost out on the gold in the Long Jump despite throwing 4.70m which was further than Japan’s Sonomi Sakai (T20) whose throw of 4.56m won her the gold on the Raaza points system where handicap was greater.
“It was a disadvantage for me. But I did not think about. This is a new experience for me. Even in the 400 it was combined. In my earlier tours I did not have to face this but it is a new challenge for me,” said Karunatilleke who has deformity in her left arm by birth.
Sri Lanka won a second gold in the final event of the day when their Army relay team swept to victory in the men’s 4 x 100m Relay T42-47.
Sri Lanka’s Paralympic bronze medallist Pradeep Sanjaya produced an explosive run in the home stretch after being handed the baton by Anil Prasanna Jayalath to clock an impressive 45.52. Indonesia took the silver in 46.20 and Thailand bronze in 47.87.
Ajith Hettiarachchi did the difficult first lap followed by Kamal Ratnayake while Jayalath, Asian record holder in the 200m T42 category, closed the gap for Sanjaya to produce a bullet-like run in the final stretch.
“This is the first time we are running the relay in a major international championships. We were always confident of winning and clocking a good time. We hope to improve on our performance in future,” said Jayalath who also won a silver in the Long Jump in Dubai.
Sri Lanka have won three gold medals, four silver medals and two bronze medals with two days of the competition remaining being represented by seven athletes in this Championships.
The final day of the Championships is on Saturday March 12 with the competition scheduled to start from 4.00pm.
Athletes compete in distances from 100m, 200m, 400, 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay events on the track, and field events of shot put, discus, javelin, club throw, long jump, high jump and triple jump. The track and field events will be held in accordance with the rules and regulations of IPC Athletics.