Five athletes will be crowned Paralympic champions at the Bird's Nest on Thursday evening, September 11, in what should be an action-packed session of heats and finals.
On the track, the big names of wheelchair racing will do battle in the finals of the Men's 5000m - T54 and the Men's 400m - T53 (both classifications covering different levels of spinal cord injuries and amputations). In the Men's 5000m - T54, the Athens gold and silver medalists, Kurt Fearnley of Australia and Aaron Gordian of Mexico, are expected to be big threats. Fearnley set a Paralympic record (10:13.21 seconds) to qualify fastest for this final. In the 400m - T53, all three Athens medalists - Hamad Aladwani of Kuwait, Hong Suk-man of the Republic of Korea and Joshua George of the United States - will be in the hunt to add to their medal tallies. Hong will enter the race as the favorite, after setting a Paralympic record (49.13 seconds) in the heats.
In the field events, the final of the Men's Discus Throw - F32/51 (covering wheelchair athletes with cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries and amputations) should see some impressive results. Karim Betina of Algeria and Mourad Idoudi of Tunisia are going to be two athletes to watch, both recording some impressive throws this year.
The Women's Shot Put - F37/38 (covering ambulant athletes with different levels of cerebral palsy) is sure to be equally exciting. Athens gold medalist Aldona Grigaliuniene of Lithuania and Athens bronze medalist Eva Berna of the Czech Republic have recorded some of the best scores this year and they will be likely to set the benchmark in Thursday evening's final.
Athletes in the Men's Pentathlon - P44 (classification for ambulant athletes with different levels of amputations and other disabilities) completed the first three disciplines on Thursday morning. Athens silver medalist Casey Tibbs of the United States got off to a good start, securing 995 points for his P44 Paralympic record (6.76 meters). Tibbs added a further 767 points from the Shot Put, but it was his compatriot Jeremy Campbell of the United States who putted the furthest (14.44). After two disciplines Campbell (1859 points) led the field, ahead of Tibbs, on 1762 points. In the 100m, Campbell continued to dominate the event, running 11.56 seconds (for a further 956 points). He will head into Thursday night's final two disciplines with 2815 points. Tibbs is ranked second, with 2713 points. Jeff Skiba of Team USA, and three-time Paralympic gold medalist in this event Urs Kolly of Swizerland, will need to dominate on Thursday evening to keep their gold medal hopes alive. The champion will be decided following the Discus and 400m.
(BOCOG September 11, 2008)