22 July 2009
The first ever London Disability Athletics Challenge will take place on Sunday afternoon at Crystal Palace with a superb line-up of British Paralympic stars going up against a wealth of international opposition from 22 nations.
The Challenge, which is set to become an annual event, will help provide much needed competition for British athletes seeking high level competition in the disability athletics calendar with the London Paralympic Games just over three years away.
Indeed in the lead up to 2012, the only major championship due to take place is the IPC World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011. Among the British athletes in the starting line-up are Beijing medallists David Weir, Shelly Woods, Hazel Simpson, Ian Jones, Ben Rushgrove, Daniel Greaves, Mickey Bushell, Chris Martin and Stephen Miller.
They will be joined by a plethora of global Paralympic stars, including a strong Chinese presence through Beijing medallists Wang Fang (T36 women’s 100m & 200m gold), Che Mian (T36 men’s 200m & 400m bronze) and Liu Wenjun (T54 women’s 100m silver).
Other top names include Kenya’s Abraham Taribei double Paralympic champion in the T46 men’s 1500m and 5000m and USA’s Tatyana McFadden, T54 women’s 200m, 400m and 800m triple silver medallist from Beijing.
Ireland and India are sending strong teams, whilst Zimbabwe, Finland, Croatia, Canada, Italy, Morocco, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Greece are also sending some of their leading athletes, including several finalists from Beijing.
The morning session will consist of the Aviva Parallel Success All Comers Event, which will provide a competition opportunity for development athletes in the Paralympic disciplines. The event is part of the Aviva Parallel Success programme which aims to find new participants and bring them together for competition opportunities.
Peter Eriksson, UKA Head Coach – Paralympics said: “I have been amazed by the response both in the UK and internationally to the London Disability Athletics Challenge, it has been truly immense. We have over 200 competitors from 22 countries which makes it the biggest single Paralympic athletics event in the world this year.
“I strongly believe this weekend will be a superb festival of athletics, and if you are attending the Aviva London Grand Prix on the Saturday, then Sunday’s programme will be a superb final course, with a host of world class names involved. I hope to see you there.”