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21st November 2019

World Para Athletics Championships draw to a close

Iwan Hopkins takes a look at how Team GB got on in Dubai after a number of world records were smashed
World Para Athletics Championships draw to a close
Image: RichardJames1990 @Flickr

With just a year to go until the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, the World Championships were of utmost importance to the 1,400 competing athletes.

Not only was it a fantastic chance to win some silverware (or ideally gold) for your country, it also served as a qualifier for all of next year’s Paralympic track and field events.

Dubai certainly took their opportunity to shine as the host nation, despite the announcement only coming in June of last year.

It was widely reported that London would attempt to reclaim the event following their successes as hosts in 2017. However, the UK Athletics committee confirmed that a follow-up bid would be unrealistic.

117 countries took part in a range of events, from the 100m sprint to the club throw, but it was China that came out on top. Claiming 25 gold medals, and 59 medals in total, they were truly dominant throughout.

Team GB also put on an admirable display. Though they only took home 28 medals – the fifth most – almost half of them were gold. 13 first-place displays meant that Britain took third place, just a medal behind Brazil.

Athletes of note include Hannah Cockroft and Sophie Hahn. Both women competed in sprint events, and each set new world records. Cockroft in the 100m T34 final, and Hahn in both the 100m T38 and 200m T38 finals.

Hahn, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was defending both the 100m and 200m titles from her previous wins in London, and really did so in style. It was the 22-year-old’s sixth and seventh world titles, as she continues to prove herself to be a real titan of the sport.

Cockroft’s 100m gold medal will certainly not be lonely in her trophy cabinet. She also took first place with a new championship record in the 800m, following her victories in the same events in London 2017 and Doha 2015, setting her in good stead for the Paralympics.

The five-time Paralympic champion now has 12 world titles across all distances and was particularly entertaining in her post-event interviews. She told the BBC that she “didn’t really have a plan” and that her only tactic was “to win.”

However, for Cockroft, these games were more than that. She admitted after winning her 100m gold that she had “fallen out of love” with the sport in 2018. Her return to top form will surely have given her the inspiration she needs to battle for her sixth Paralympic medal in Tokyo next year.

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