Paralympic champions kick off season at star-studded Tunis GP

Rio 2016 gold medallist Raoua Tlili is one of the local idols in action as Tunisia hosts one of the most traditional Para athletics GPs in the circuit.  (Photo) by Atsushi Tomura / Getty Images for Tokyo 2020)
Rio 2016 gold medallist Raoua Tlili is one of the local idols in action as Tunisia hosts one of the most traditional Para athletics GPs in the circuit. (Photo) by Atsushi Tomura / Getty Images for Tokyo 2020)

Africa's largest Para athletics competition kicks off with nearly 480 athletes from 59 countries

Africa’s largest Para sport competition kicks off today Thursday (18 March) in Tunisia with the Tunis 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix.

Around 480 athletes from 59 countries will take on the Rades Olympic Athletics Stadium until Saturday with Paralympic and World Champions gold medallists galore in attendance, alongside Parapan American Games and Asian Para Games champions making their season debut.

“This event is a celebration for us and I’m really happy to be here participating of the Grand Prix with so many great athletes from all over the world,” said Tunisia’s four-time Paralympic champion thrower Raoua Tlili.

Para athletics was responsible for the 19 medals Tunisia won at the last Paralympic Games in Rio. Tlili took two of them, with her golds in the women’s shot put F41 and women’s discus throw F41.

Another local start with idol status is the three-time Paralympic champion wheelchair racer Walid Ktila who will be competing in the men’s 100m, 200m and 400m T34.“All eyes are on Tunisia as we are always one of the strongest countries in the sport, but I hope all athletes will have great performances, break records and achieve qualification for Tokyo,” Tlili added.

Rio rematch

Day one will see plenty of action including the first meeting of two runners who made the headlines at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the men’s 1500m T13.

Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka took the gold medal in Brazil with Ethiopia’s Tamiru Demisse in second in a race in which the top four finishers all clocked faster than the men’s 1500m Olympic champion.

After the race, Demisse stayed in Brazil for almost three years away from international championships. Tunis will be his official comeback.

Other stars of the opening day are Cuba’s five-time Paralympic champion Omara Duran in the women’s 100m T12 and two-time Paralympic champion Leinier Savon in the men’s 100m T12.

More action on days 2 and 3

Tunisia’s London 2012 and Rio 2016 gold medallist Maroua Ibrahmi will open day two competing in her favourite event, the women’s club throw F32.

Dubai 2019 world champion Kiara Rodriguez of Ecuador will face France’s three-time European champion Angelina Lanza in the women’s long jump T47.

Another local star in the field events on Friday will be Dubai 2019 world champion Raja Jebali in the women’s shot put F40.The closing day will kick off with a three-time Paralympic champion and four-time world champion, Ukraine’s Oksana Zubkovska in the women’s long jump T12.

Durand returns to the track for the women’s 400m T12 while Tlili will be in search of home gold in the women’s discus throw F40/41.Algeria’s Rio 2016 champion Samir Nouioua will also be in action in the men’s 1500m T46.

Twenty-four athletes from 12 countries (Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo, DR of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Palestine, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo and Yemen) will be competing in the Grand Prix supported by the International Paralympic Committee's NPC Development Programme, powered by Worldwide Paralympic Partner Toyota.

The Tunis 2021 Grand Prix also offered classification opportunities for almost 120 athletes from 44 nations.

Live results will be available on World Para Athletics website and all the action can be followed on World Para Athletics Twitter and Instagram channels.

By Imen Bliwa for World Para Athletics/International Paralympic Committee

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