Clifford makes history as Dubai Para Games begin
"It's unbelievable," said Clifford, who targets double gold in Tokyo 2020 now
Australia's Jaryd Clifford dreamt, believed and finally lived it, breaking the world record in his 1500m T13 gold-winning effort as the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships kicked off on Thursday.
Clifford, a bronze medallist at the London 2017 Championships, ran in 3:47.78 seconds surprising everyone, including the favourite Abdellatif Baka, the Paralympic and World champion, who finished in 3:49.30 secs.
Russia's Anton Kuliatin took the silver with a timing of 3:47.91secs.
Russia is taking part in the World Championships for the first time in three years following the doping ban in 2016.
Clifford stayed ahead of the pack throughout even as Baka was close on his heels in the last 100 metres but it wasn't enough.
With Thursday's show, the Australian showed he has come a long way from being just a fresh-faced 17-year-old at Rio 2016 Paralympic to be the one to beat at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
"It's unbelievable," said Clifford, who targets double gold in Tokyo 2020 now.
"I didn't expect to win but I was dreaming to win. Winning the gold medal against such a tough field is amazing. But when we land in Tokyo, there will be very good runners."
Asked about his motivation in getting two world records this season, he said: "My training group is making me believe that I can beat the best. Michael Roger, the men's marathon champion in 1500m T46, and me prepared together. He, in fact, made me a coffee today. We help each other and we believe in each other," said the 20-year-old who set T12 world of 3:47.89 secs in Sydney this April.
"I want to win double gold at Tokyo 2020 (1500m and 5000m) but I have to work hard for this."
The women's 400m T13 finals was another thriller with Brazilian Rayane Soares Da Silva beating favourite Leila Adzhametova from Ukraine in a close final.
Da Silva finished with her personal best clocking 57.30 secs, surging ahead of Portugal's Carolina Duarte (57.46 secs) in the last 100 metres.
The Paralympic medallist Adzhametova finished third in 57.55s.
Said Rayane: "I didn't realise that I was leading. The last 100m was tough. My feet started to ache. But I am happy to finally finish it. My strategy was to overtake the Ukrainian. I feel great and happy for everyone that believe in me.
"My coaches believed in me. And before this race, I too believed that I can do it. And it showed in my result today," she added.
Among other results, former world champion Paul Blake clinched the men's 800 T36 finals with season's best timing of 2:07.44 secs, while Bulgaria's Athlete of the Year, Hristiyan Stoyanov took a step forward to his Paralympic gold dream, winning the men's 1500m T46 final. In men's 100m T51 final, Finland's Piispanen Toni beat the world record holder Peter Genyn running in 20.33 secs.
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