Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Action under way at World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai

The games opened on Thursday with heats for the 400m, 100m, discus and shot put

Athletes pushed off in wheelchairs and hurled the shot put as the action began in Dubai at the World Para Athletics Championships.

The games opened on Thursday with heats for the 400m, 100m, discus and shot put as thousands of athletes competed in the qualifying rounds at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.

Maclean Dzidzienyo, an athlete from Ghana, watched to get a sense of the track and venue hours before his 100m event.

Sports is a voice for the voiceless, it has given me confidence. It has made me who I am today

“I’m here to warm up and get conditioned before my race,” said Dzidzienyo, who races in a wheelchair having contracted polio at birth.

As he watched the athletes set off on wheelchairs down the track, he moved as if in synch with the men on the field.

“I feel the rhythm, I watch how they first push out, how they move,” he said.

“It’s a tough field and I need to reduce at least a second from my time for a place in Tokyo.”

Most athletes have the first four spots as their target in Dubai to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

An accountant in a sports club in Accra, Dzidzienyo said para-athletics was integral to his life. He has been with the national team for the past eight years.

“Sports is a voice for the voiceless, it has given me confidence,” he said.

“It has made me who I am today.”

Athletes in para-athletics are classified according to the physical ability since each track and field sport has different demands.

Eleni Anousaki, a coach from Greece, said athletics, swimming and power lifting were among the nation’s top para-sports.

“We have top athletes who aim to get the medals and for others it is about taking part in a world competition,” she said.

“With more participation and contests, society is becoming more friendly and open over the last few years.”

More than 1,400 athletes from 122 countries will compete for top honours in 172 events in Dubai over the next eight days.

Updated: November 7, 2019 03:50 PM

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