Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), believes history could be made on Friday (9 September), the second day of track and field competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
With many of the world’s top Para athletic sprinters likely to be in action at the Olympic stadium – including the world’s fastest male and female Paralympians – Ireland’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Jason Smyth and Cuba’s double Paralympic champion Omara Durand – expectations are high for a thrilling day of action.
“There’s no doubt Friday is going to showcase some unbelievable action on the track,” said Sir Philip. “It’s arguably the hottest ticket of the Games.”
“The schedule is jam-packed with a number of superb sprint events and we all know how exciting 100m races can be. It’s only the second day of competition and if you look at the names that are going to line-up, we know we can expect big things.”
The final of the men’s 100m T13 takes place on Friday morning, where Smyth will be hoping to achieve a memorable third consecutive 100m Paralympic title. At the last two Paralympic Games, Smyth has lowered his world record and will be hoping to go faster than the 10.46 seconds he clocked at London 2012.
Durand, who won a hat-trick of world titles last year setting four new world records on the way, will be aiming for a place in the final of the women’s 100m T12, which takes place in Friday’s evening session. Her current world record stands at 11.48.
One of the most highly anticipated events of any Paralympic Games is the final of the men’s 100m T43/44 which takes place shortly before 20:00 hours.
Local hopes will rest with London 2012 gold medallist Alan Fonteles Oliveira, winner over 200m four years ago. The 24-year-old starts as the fastest man in the field – his world record of 10.57 seconds in the T43 class has stood since July 2013.
The Brazilian is sure to have a tough race on his hands though as the US number one and Parapan Am champion Jarryd Wallace and Great Britain’s defending Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock also go for gold.
Three-time Paralympic champion Terezinha Guilhermina is another home favourite focussed on reaching her 100m final on Friday. The Brazilian, who races in the T11 class for visually impaired athletes, is already a fans’ favourite recognised around the world by her colourful blindfolds.
The 37-year-old has two Paralympic titles to defend but will have to work hard against the likes of China’s Cuiqing Liu, who beat Guilhermina to a hat-trick of individual titles at last year’s World Championships.
“Four years ago we saw a clean sweep by Brazil in the women’s 100m T11- Terezinha topped the podium, while Jerusa Santos and Jhulia Santos won silver and bronze. There’s no doubting the depth of talent from the host nation,” added Sir Philip.
“The Brazilian fans have a fantastic chance to get behind a number of their top Para athletes on Friday – and I’m sure the home talent will appreciate all the support they can get.
“The atmosphere around the sprint events is always electric and I’m sure Friday will be no different.”
If that is not enough to whet any sports fan’s appetite, more star names also feature on the second day of action.
The USA’s Tatyana McFadden, the world’s best wheelchair racer, will compete in the 100m T54 final just after 19:00 as she starts her campaign to win a record seven golds at one Games. Great Britain’s reigning world champion Sophie Hahn will be hoping to get the better of Brazilian Veronica Hipolito in the women’s 100m T38.