Petrucio Ferreira, Richard Browne and Evan O’Hanlon complete line-up for unprecedented race that is part of one year to Rio 2016 Paralympic Games celebrations
Favourite Jason Smyth set the fastest time in qualifying for the final of an unprecedented competition to find the fastest para-athlete in the world, alongside Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday (6 September). The Irishman won his heat in 10.63 seconds to reach Monday’s final in the 100m event – part of the one year to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games celebrations – that is pitching the world’s fastest sprinters from different disability classes against each other.
Smyth, who now competes in the T12 class as his eye condition has worsened, won his heat on Sunday morning against Brazil’s Felipe Gomes (world silver medallist and London 2012 bronze medallist in the T11 visual impairment class) and Browne.
“The nice thing was that my time was the quickest, but tomorrow is a different day,” said Smyth. “I hope I can run the quickest tomorrow. Hopefully lots of people will come to celebrate the one year to the Games milestone.
“This event is such a unique opportunity, not only for the athletes, but also for the people watching, because we never see this. It really is something special to bring athletes together regardless of their disabilities to promote the sport.”
Ferreira, who gold at last month’s Parapan-American Games in Toronto, won the second heat in 10.79 seconds against the USA’s David Brown (100m world record holder in the T11 visually impaired class) and O’Hanlon.
“I will give my best tomorrow and I hope I can finish in first place,” said Ferreira. “But the most important thing is the excitement the event generates and showing people a little of what will happen next year in Rio.”
Browne and O’Hanlon qualified for the final – which will take place at 12.50pm on Monday (7 September) in Parque dos Patins – by recording he next best times, 10.84 and 10.91 seconds respectively. There will also be a B-final on Sunday, contested by T11 class athletes Gomes and Brown, who run alongside guides.
A women’s race will be contested by Cubans Omara Durand (the world’s fastest female para-athlete) and Yunidis Castillo (T47 100m world record holder) and Brazilian Terezinha Guilhermina, a winner of three Paralympic and eight world titles.
The second day of the Paralympic Festival starts at 9am and will feature cultural and educational events, music, dance, sports workshops and two international sports challenges – Brazil v Argentina in visually impaired five-a-side football and USA v Brazil in women’s sitting volleyball. Click here to see the full programme.