Dharambir to lead India at Fazza-Dubai 2022 Para-athletics Grand Prix

Dubai, March 20 (IANS) Indian Para-athletes including Paralympian Dharambir will be in action at the 13th Fazza International Championships – Dubai 2022 World Para-athletics Grand Prix that gets under way here on Monday.

Dharambir, who will compete in men’s discus throw and club throw F51 events, will lead a 29-member young Indian side who will be aiming to make a mark and achieve Minimum Qualification Standard for this July’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, this October.

Dharambir, a silver medallist at Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games, will be joined by APG bronze medallist Mohammed Yasser (men’s shot put F46), promising para-athletes Devender Kumar (men’s discus throw F44), Nimisha Suresh Chakkungalparambil (women’s long jump F46) and Pranav Prasad (men’s 100m, 200m T64), all former gold medallists at Fazza International Championships, among others.

Para-athletics coach Manju Nath who is accompanying the team said, “We have a balanced team with many new faces ready to make a mark. The team is confident and eager to start their campaign. We also have big gold medal hopes from several players this time.”

The event also offered the opportunity to more than 100 para-athletes, including several Indians, to get classified.

“This is an important event. Many of our athletes will be aiming to get the MQS for the upcoming Commonwealth Games at the Fazza Para-athletics,” coach Satyanarayana had said.

The Championships, hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, will kick off the World Para-athletics’ Grand Prix season with around 500 Para-athletes from 43 nations to be in action this week.

Among other top names competing this week are Switzerland’s wheelchair racing legend in T54 Marcel Hug, the six-time Paralympic and nine-time World champion, and Thailand’s Paeyo Pongsakorn, the three-time gold medallist in Tokyo 2020 in T53 wheelchair races, who would be the biggest names in the field, besides UAEs Paralympic star Mohammed Hammadi (men’s wheelchair 800m T34).

In the women’s event, Australia’s Paralympic star Angela Ballard would be the favourite in women’s wheelchair races, while Indonesia’s Asian Para Games gold medallist sprinters Putri Aulia and Karisma Evi Tiarani would be ones to watch in women’s 100m races.

Ahead of the event, Thani Juma Berregad, Chairman of the Fazza Championships said, “The Fazza Para Athletics Championship has been an important event in our calendar. And the event has grown over the years with Paralympic and World champions now being a regular in the line-up. This event was also the stepping stone towards hosting a successful World Para Athletics Championships in 2019. I hope the event continues to produce many more Paralympic champions. My best wishes to the participating athletes.”

Majid Al Usaimi, Director of the Fazza Championships added, “After the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the athletes would be eager to get back to the competition mode. With some of the big events lined up later this year including the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games, the Fazza Championships will be important in terms of analysing their game and work needed to be done.”

Last year’s Dubai GP saw four new world records, including one in the women’s 100m T63 with Italy’s Ambra Sabatini making her international debut – six months later she went on to claim the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

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