Hammadi leads UAE at IPC Athletics in Dubai

Hammadi leads UAE at IPC Athletics in Dubai
Officials with Mohammed Hammadi

Dubai - Colourful ceremony welcomes athletes from 26 nations

By Moni Mathews

Published: Mon 7 Mar 2016, 9:11 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Mar 2016, 7:57 AM

The UAE's Mohamed Hammadi will lead a strong UAE contingent at the six-day 2016 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships at the Police Officers' Club, Dubai.
A colourful ceremony late on Sunday night marked the opening session at the SkyDive Dubai complex with over 250 athletes from 26 countries taking part. These athletes will make a bid to qualify for the upcoming Paralympics in Brazil in September after the Olympics. The Dubai qualifying leg ends on March 12.
Silver and bronze medallist at the 2012 London Paralympics and a former world champ, Hammadi, one of the finest wheelchair sprint and middle distance exponents in the business, has brought laurels home from major meets abroad in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T34s.
The favourite takes on four events on home soil, less than five months after winning three silver medals and one bronze at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships.
Hammadi equalled his own 100m T34 Asian record in Qatar last October, just 12 months after winning double sprint gold at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. The 30-year-old will undoubtedly be out to make his mark once again in this Paralympic year though Kuwait's T33 world record holder Ahmad Almutairi is amongst those hoping to upset the form book.

. First time ever that the IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships is being held in Dubai.
. Being a qualifying event, close to 250 athletes of the highest order will vie for berths for the Rio Paralympics to held after the Olympics this year.
. 26 nations are taking part in the Dubai event being held at the Police Officers Club till March 12.
. 30-year old Mohamed Hammadi of the UAE, a former world champion, equalled his own 100m T34 Asian record in Qatar last October, a year after after winning double sprint gold at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea.
. Amit Kumar of India and Iran's Mokhtari Hemami (discus); Malaysians Mohamad Mohamad Puzi (100m sprint T36) and Abdul Latif Romly (T20 long jumper); and China's Jin Zheng (women's 1,500m T11/T20) and Liangmin Zhang (women's discus and shot put F11/12) are some of the other leading names taking part in Dubai.
Also in line for major honours at the event being hosted for the first time in Dubai is Malaysian Mohamad Mohamad Puzi (100m T36) who won gold at the IPC Athletics World Championships last season when he saw off a strong field in Qatar to take his first global title and top the ranking for the year, having also set a new Asian record of 12.01 in the heats.
Discus thrower Amit Kumar of India takes on a strong field in the highly competitive F31/32/51/F51-53 section. Kumar, classified mainly in the F51 category is one of five finalists from last year's IPC Athletics World Championships to line up at the Police Officers' Club. His show in F31/32/51 in the Asian meet saw him snap record with a 25.44m throw. Iran's F53 thrower Alireza Mokhtari Hemami, the Asian Para Games champion, will be Kumar's biggest challenge.
Another Malaysian in the fray, Abdul Latif Romly makes the men's long jump T20 event look so effortless. The 18-year-old only made his international debut less than two years ago, winning the Asian Para Games gold in the process. He continued to take world class competition in his stride, rounding off 2015 with a world title, courtesy of a championship and Asian record leap of 7.35m.
China's Jin Zheng will lead a powerful side when she takes on some of the best in the women's 1,500m T11/T20. The 24-year-old visually impaired para-athlete picked up her first world title last year to add to the gold she won at the 2014 Asian Para Games in world record time. She will have to watch out for the Japanese duo Makiko Toyoshima - 1,500m T20 Para Asian Games gold medallist - and Moeko Yamamoto (T20) in Dubai.
Qatar's Sara Masoud will be hard to beat especially in the women's shot put F32-34, having won gold in the shot put and discus at the 2014 Asian Para Games; the 29-year-old followed that up with a notable fifth place finish at the last worlds after throwing a personal best 4.54m - just two centimetres shy of the F33 Asian record.
Also, from the powerful Chinese contingent is Liangmin Zhang in the women's discus and shot put F11/12. The reigning Paralympic and world discus champion has bags of international experience having competed at three Paralympic Games and four World Championships, securing no fewer than three Paralympic and six world medals along the way.

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