The 2023 Para Athletics World Championships will commence in Paris on Saturday, featuring over 1300 competitors from 107 countries. With 171 events spread across 10 days, this is the largest Para sport event since the Tokyo Games. Besides striving for outstanding performances and medals, athletes will also compete for qualification spots for the Paris Paralympics, where the top four participants in each event will secure a place for their respective countries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the athletes who are poised to make an impact on this grand stage.
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) – T54 800m, 1500m, and 5000m
Known as ‘The Silver Bullet’ due to his helmet’s color, Marcel Hug aims to add to his collection of world titles in the T54 wheelchair racing category. While he played second fiddle to Britain’s David Weir at the 2012 London Paralympics, Hug has emerged as the dominant figure in his class, securing two gold medals in Rio and an impressive four in Tokyo. Already this year, the 37-year-old has triumphed in the Boston and London Marathons and set new world records in the 800m, 1500m, and 5000m, the very events he will compete in at the championships in Paris.
Gavin Drysdale (Great Britain) – T72 100m
Gavin Drysdale could potentially earn Great Britain their first gold medal in Paris, particularly during Sunday’s main day of competition in the Frame Running events. Previously known as RaceRunning, this discipline allows athletes with severe co-ordination impairments to run with the assistance of a three-wheeled frame. Drysdale, a frame runner, seeks to defend the title he won at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai. Alongside his teammate Rafi Solaiman, he hopes to demonstrate the importance of this discipline, which was controversially excluded from the program for the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
Lisa Adams (New Zealand) – F37 shot put
Lisa Adams, sister of double Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams and sister of NBA player Steven Adams, knows the meaning of sporting prowess. Despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, Lisa only began her Para-athletics career in 2018 after participating in netball, basketball, and rugby. Since then, she has made remarkable progress, clinching gold at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai and following it up with a victory at the Tokyo Paralympics. At the latter, she was one of three gold medalists for New Zealand in the field events. Now, she sets her sights on Paris to continue her impressive journey.
Hollie Arnold (Great Britain) – F46 javelin
Hollie Arnold is eyeing her fifth consecutive world title in the javelin event, presenting her toughest challenge yet. At only 29 years old, Arnold, born without her right forearm, stands as the most experienced female athlete on the British team. Her international debut occurred at the Beijing Paralympics when she was just 14 years old. Since then, she has triumphed at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, securing her first major title, and went on to claim her maiden Paralympic gold in Rio. After a detour participating in the 2020 series of “I’m A Celebrity” in Wales due to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, she aims to showcase her best form once again in France.
Markus Rehm (Germany) – T64 long jump
Markus Rehm, also known as the ‘Blade Jumper,’ continues to push himself to new distances and rewrite records, even with years of experience behind him. Losing his right leg below the knee in a wakeboarding accident as a teenager didn’t hinder his progress in the long jump discipline. As a three-time Paralympic gold medalist, Rehm targets his sixth consecutive long jump world title in Paris. In May, he improved his own world record to 8.64 meters, a distance that would have secured gold in every Olympics since Barcelona in 1992.
Catherine Debrunner (Switzerland) – T53 100m, 400m, and 800m
Catherine Debrunner, the 28-year-old Swiss star, enters the championships in the form of her life, seeking track domination in the T53 category. Displaying her exceptional skills, Debrunner improved her own 100m, 400m, and 800m world records on home soil in May. In 2022, she made her marathon debut, winning in Berlin and London while setting a new course record. Her remarkable performances earned her the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability prize at the esteemed Laureus Awards. Although the 400m is her main event, as the defending world and Paralympic champion, Debrunner will pose a threat in all her events.
Timothee Adolphe (France) – T11 100m and 400m
As France prepares to host the Paralympics next year, Timothee Adolphe stands as one of their leading lights, balancing life as an athlete and a hip-hop artist. Competing in the T11 category for athletes with little or no vision, Adolphe wears blacked-out goggles and relies on a guide to compete. Nicknamed the White Cheetah, Adolphe made his international debut at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, securing a bronze medal in the 400m. He triumphed in the 400m and claimed silver in the 100m at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai. After facing a disqualification in the 400m at the Tokyo Paralympics, he bounced back to win silver in the 100m.
Vanessa Low (Australia) – T61 long jump
Born in Germany, Vanessa Low lost both legs above the knee following a train accident. However, her determination to continue competing led her to spend two years relearning how to walk with prostheses. Low made her international debut at the 2011 World Championships, securing bronze in the long jump and 100m events. She won her first major title at the 2014 European Championships and went on to claim a world title in 2015, followed by Paralympic gold the next year. After marrying Australian Paralympic sprinter Scott Reardon, who now serves as her coach, Low switched nationalities and won gold for Australia at the 2019 World Championships and the Tokyo Paralympics. Despite the recent birth of her son, Matteo, in September, she remains focused on defending her Paralympic title in France next year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about para athletes
Q: When and where are the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships taking place?
A: The 2023 Para Athletics World Championships will be held in Paris from 8th to 17th July at the Charlety Stadium.
Q: How many countries and athletes will participate in the championships?
A: Over 1300 competitors from 107 countries will be participating in the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships.
Q: What is at stake for the athletes in terms of qualification?
A: Qualification places for the Paris Paralympics are at stake in the championships. The top four athletes in each event will secure a slot for their country in the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Q: Who are some of the notable athletes to watch in the championships?
A: Some notable athletes to watch include Marcel Hug (Switzerland) in T54 wheelchair racing, Gavin Drysdale (Great Britain) in T72 100m, Lisa Adams (New Zealand) in F37 shot put, Hollie Arnold (Great Britain) in F46 javelin, Markus Rehm (Germany) in T64 long jump, Catherine Debrunner (Switzerland) in T53 100m, 400m, and 800m, Timothee Adolphe (France) in T11 100m and 400m, and Vanessa Low (Australia) in T61 long jump.
Q: Are there any controversies or challenges surrounding the championships?
Q: What records and achievements have these athletes made in the past?
A: Athletes like Marcel Hug, Lisa Adams, and Hollie Arnold have won multiple world titles and secured gold medals at previous Paralympic Games. Markus Rehm has set impressive world records in long jump, and Catherine Debrunner has broken her own world records in various events. These athletes have showcased exceptional performances and achieved significant milestones throughout their careers.
Q: How has the journey been for athletes like Lisa Adams and Vanessa Low?
A: Lisa Adams, the younger sister of Valerie Adams, double Olympic shot put champion, and sister of NBA player Steven Adams, started her Para-athletics career in 2018 and has quickly risen to success, winning gold at the 2019 World Championships and the Tokyo Paralympics. Vanessa Low, who lost both legs above the knee, has represented both Germany and Australia, earning world titles and a Paralympic gold medal. She continues to compete and aims to defend her Paralympic title in France next year.
More about para athletes
- 2023 Para Athletics World Championships
- Charlety Stadium
- Tokyo Paralympic Games
- Marcel Hug – Official Website
- Gavin Drysdale – World Para Athletics Profile
- Lisa Adams – World Para Athletics Profile
- Hollie Arnold – World Para Athletics Profile
- Markus Rehm – World Para Athletics Profile
- Catherine Debrunner – World Para Athletics Profile
- Timothee Adolphe – World Para Athletics Profile
- Vanessa Low – World Para Athletics Profile