World champions line up in Tunisia27.06.2019
Africa hosts seventh Grand Prix of 2019
World Para Athletics heads to Africa this week for the seventh Grand Prix of the year in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
Home favourites and reigning world champions Walid Ktila, Yassine Gharbi, Raoua Tlili and Maroua Ibrahmi will be joined by over 300 Para athletes from around the world for the three-day meeting at the city’s Rades Athletics stadium.
The competition begins on Friday and has been confirmed by the Local Organising Committee after two bomb attacks targeting the police hit central Tunis on Thursday.
Here’s who to look out for at the Grand Prix:
Multiple Paralympic and world champion Walid Ktila has already impressed this season, breaking the 100m and 200m T34 world records in Arbon, Switzerland, last month. The 33-year-old takes on the 100m, 400m and 800m in Tunis.
Fellow Tunisian Yassine Gharbi also has world titles to defend later this year - he won the 200m and 400m T54 at London 2017. The 29-year-old was the fastest T54 finisher in the 200m and 400m heats in Arbon – races which featured many of the world’s best. He also set a new 1500m T54 African record when he finished third fastest behind Thai Rawat Tana and Canada’s in-form Brent Lakatos.
Other key contenders from the host nation include four-time Paralympic gold medallist Mohamed Farhat Chida, who competes in the T38 class for Para athletes with coordination impairments, and Sonia Mansour, second fastest in the world so far this year in the women’s 400m T38.
Turkey’s world bronze medallist Oguz Akbulut races over 200m and 400m. The 27-year-old, who won 400m T12 gold at last year’s European Championships, is joined in Tunis by teammates Hamide Dogangun (T53) and Zubeyde Supurgeci (T54), who between them won five golds at Berlin 2018.
Mozambique’s Paralympic 400m T12 bronze medallist Edmilsa Governo, 21, makes the journey from Maputo to compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump.
Algeria’s middle-distance star Abdellatif Baka (T13) takes on 1500m and 5,000m in Tunis, having previously stated his desire to race over both distances at this year’s World Championships. World silver medallist Bilel Aloui (T12) also runs.
Tunisia’s Paralympic champions Somaya Busaid (T13) and Abbes Saidi (T38) race in their favoured distance, the 1500m; Bulgaria’s European champion Hristiyan Stoyanov (T46) and Turkey’s Hasan Kacar (T11) also compete over 1500m.
As ever, the field events at the Tunis Grand Prix are bursting with talent.
Several reigning world champions line up, most notably in the women’s shot put competitions.
Tunisia’s multiple major gold medallist Raoua Tlili (F41) is joined by her countrywomen Maroua Ibrahmi (F32) and Rima Abdelli (F40) as well as Bahrain’s Fatema Nedham (F53) and Latvia’s Diana Dadzite (F55).
In the men’s event, Iraq’s Paralympic, world and Asian Para Games champion Garrah Tnaiash is one of the standout names – the 28-year-old currently leads the way in the shot put F40 world rankings having thrown 10.38m in Morocco earlier this year.
The men’s shot put F32 features former world and European champion Vladislav Frolov of Russia as well as London 2017 World Championship finalists Mohammed Naser of Kuwait, Karim Betina of Algeria, and Oman’s silver medallist Mohammed Al Mashaykhi.