Stars descend on Paris as Grand Prix returns

Paralympic and world champions head the field in French capital

A female Para sprinter running Mandy Francois-Elie will be hoping for another successful performance on home soil at the Paris Grand Prix © • Getty Images

The French capital of Paris hosted the World Para Athletics Grand Prix series for the first time last year and many of the world’s top stars return to the Stade Charléty this week for the sixth Grand Prix of 2018.

Around 290 athletes from over 35 countries will compete at the event which takes place from 14-15 June. Here is who to look out for:

Sprints

Brazil have sent a strong team to compete in Paris and also at the Berlin Grand Prix later this month.

Paralympic and world champion Petrucio Ferreira, who clocked a world lead 10.51 earlier this year, highlights the men’s 100m T47, while the current 100m T11 world number one and two, Lucas Prado and Felipe Gomes, go head-to-head once again.

Watch out too for T63 sprinter Vinicius Goncalves Rodrigues, who became the first in his class to go sub-12 seconds in April this year. World 100m T37 champion Mateus Cardoso also competes.

There is a South African double act in the men’s 100m T12 – Commonwealth gold and silver medallists Ndodomzi Ntutu and Hilton Langenhoven start, while teammate and reigning Paralympic and world champion Charl du Toit goes in the 200m and 400m T37.

Germany’s triple London 2017 gold medallist Johannes Floors was in superb form here last year and is one to watch ahead of the European Championships in August, as is his teammate Irmgard Bensusan in the women’s 100m and 200m T44/62/64.

Home hopes will rest with Timothee Adolphe in the men’s 200m and 400m T11 and Mandy Francois-Elie in the women’s T37 sprints – both set new national records in Paris twelve months ago.

Paralympic and world champions Leilia Adzhametova of Ukraine (T13) and Italy’s Martina Caironi (T63) will also be out to make their mark ahead of the Berlin European Championships.

Middle distance

French T54 wheelchair racer Julien Casoli finished top of the podium in Paris last year; the 35-year-old lines up in the 800m and 1,500m while fellow Frenchmen Pierre Fairbank, Gian Tronquet and Nicolas Brignone race in the T53 class.

The men’s 1,500m T38 features another local star, Louis Radius, who won silver at last year’s World Championships and has two European gold medals to defend in August.

Poland’s Joanna Mazur (T11) won her first ever world title in London in a terrific sprint finish and races over 1,500m this week.

Field

French star Marie-Amelie Le Fur is back in action in the long jump in Paris. The 29-year-old suffered the heart-breaking loss of her unborn child earlier this year and makes her first appearance at a major international competition since winning double gold at Rio 2016.

As well as racing over 100m, Langenhoven competes in the long jump – the event he won at Rio 2016. Japan’s world silver medallist Atsushi Yamamoto also returns to the sand pit after competing at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games where he finished 12th in the snowboard-cross.

Germany’s F41 shot put world and Paralympic champion Niko Kappel will be hoping to make another big impression ahead of the European Championships after smashing the world record* last weekend (9 June) when he threw 14.02m – the first Para athlete to go beyond the 14-metre mark.

Watch out too for Greek F54 world and Paralympic champion Manolis Stefanoudakis and Iceland’s two-time European champion Helgi Sveinsson, who competes in the javelin F63.

Brazil’s top field athletes are also in action – watch out for Silvania Costa da Oliveira (long jump T11), Thiago Paulino (shot put F57), Alessandro Silva (discus and shot put F11), Claudiney dos Santos (javelin and discus F56) and Andre Rocha (shot put F53).

*subject to confirmation by World Para Athletics