Tokyo Paralympics: Bronze medal another feather in UAE star Al Hammadi's cap
Al Hammadi clinched the bronze medal in the men's 100 metre T34 on Monday
Mohamed Al Hammadi reached a new milestone in his illustrious career as the UAE para-athlete won the first medal for the country at the Tokyo Games on Monday.
Al Hammadi clinched the bronze medal in the men's 100 metre T34 on Monday.
The UAE athlete finished third with a time of 15.66 seconds.
This is the fourth Paralympic medal for Al Hammadi, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Games and a silver and a bronze at the 2012 London Paralympics.
Tunisia’s Walid Ktila clinched the gold medal with a time of 15.01 seconds on Monday, while the silver medal went to Rheed McCracken of Australia who completed the race in 15.37 seconds.
Al Hammadi had warmed up for the Tokyo Games at the 12th Fazza International Championships – Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix – with a silver medal at the men’s 100m T34 Final.
“The year 2020 had been very difficult for athletes, we could not train much. Thankfully, Dubai started Para Athletics season and it is important for us to perform in our home championships,” Al Hammadi had said after winning the silver medal at the Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in February.
Al Hammadi efforts brought cheers to the UAE camp after the legendary powerlifter Mohammed Khamis Khalaf bowed out of the Tokyo Games due to a shoulder injury on Sunday.
Khalaf, who was bidding to win a fourth Paralympic medal, aggravated his injury while trying to lift 210-kg on Sunday. Khalaf had recently suffered an injury during training in Macedonia.
Meanwhile, German sprinter Felix Streng stormed his way to Paralympic gold in the T64 100m in Tokyo on Monday, dethroning British rival Jonnie Peacock who ended up sharing the bronze after a photo finish.
The track thriller saw Streng finish in 10.76 seconds, short of the Paralympic record he set just a day earlier in heats, but ahead of Costa Rica's Sherman Isidro Guity Guity, who took silver.
After several tense minutes, the decision came back: a shared bronze, with both Peacock and Germany's Johannes Flores coming in at precisely 10.78 seconds.
The pair beamed as they received their flags to join the other medallists.
"It felt amazing," Streng said afterwards of his win.
"I'm so happy that I could execute a race and win in such a competitive field."
The race was one of the last on the sixth day of competition in Tokyo, with records again tumbling from the track to the pool.
At Tokyo's Aquatics Centre, 16-year-old Jiang Yuyan won her first Paralympic gold in the S6 50m butterfly final, after smashing her own world record in the heats.
"This is my first Paralympic experience and in terms of my personal goals, it's a self-confidence boost," the teenager told AFP straight after her winning swim.
"Of course, it's very exciting. But most of all, I think it's the beginning of the next chapter of my life."
Jiang was nearly killed when she was run over by a truck as a three-year-old, but by 14 she was breaking world records and had earned the nickname "Flying Fish".
She is the youngest member of China's Paralympic team, which continues to top the medal table -- as it has at every Games since Athens 2004.
Earlier Monday, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons paid tribute to two Afghan athletes who escaped from Kabul after the country's fall to the Taliban this month.
Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived in Tokyo over the weekend after a complex international effort that saw them evacuated to France where they rested and trained before flying to Japan.
Parsons said on Monday that receiving the pair in Tokyo was "a moment I will remember for the rest of my life".
"It was just incredible to feel that we had contributed in some way," he added.
Sprinter Rasouli will take part in the men's T47 long jump on Tuesday having arrived too late for his favoured T47 100m.
Khudadadi will compete in the women's -49kg K44 taekwondo on Thursday. (with inputs from AFP)
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