Sport Writer Dan Hague recaps events in Dubai, as the British para-athletic team continue their preparation for Tokyo 2020
The World Para-Athletics Championships took place in Dubai between the 7th and 15th November. The Great Britain team won 28 medals, of which 13 were gold, and there were some outstanding performances from younger athletes.
Team GB were missing a number of para-athletics’ superstars. Jonnie Peacock retired after the London World Championships, and Stefanie Reid, the 2017 T44 long jump world champion, had to withdraw through injury. Additionally, David Weir competed in the April T54 London marathon. The event was included as part of the Para-Athletics World Championship schedule, however, it would be unfair to say that the Great Britain team truly benefitted from Weir’s World Para-Athletics Championship experience.
Nonetheless, the Great Britain team could still boast of a number of exceptional athletes. Once again, Hannah Cockroft and Sophie Hahn dominated on the world stage, winning two gold medals each. Aled Davies and Hollie Arnold also topped the podium. These results, albeit positive ones, would have been expected by the Great Britain team managers.
However, it is the performances of the younger athletes that impressed the most. There were inaugural world titles for Maria Lyle, who won T35 100m and 200m gold. Sabrina Fortune and Jonathan Broom-Edwards also won golds. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old, Thomas Young narrowly missed out on gold in the T38 100m. These performances all show that Great British para-athletics is in a fantastic place going forward.
The reaction from Paula Dunn, Great Britain’s para-athletics head coach since 2012, was emphatic. ‘We’re in a really good position going into Tokyo for me, it’s been a successful championships.’ She said. ‘We’ve reached 29 medals and in the specific Tokyo events we are just one medal down [on our target of 24 medals]. I’m comfortable that we have got athletes at home who will win medals in Tokyo.’
Overall, British performances in Dubai bode well for next summer. The Paralympics are the pinnacle of any para-athletes career. They are the most well-attended, the most well-viewed and the best chance for a para-athlete to catapult themselves to stardom and achieve national hero status. Next summer, we may discover some new superstars of para-athletics to match the likes of Jonnie Peacock.
The British public should look forward to a significant medal haul at the Paralympics and can expect a fantastic display of para-athletics from the Great Britain team.