Athletes are breaking world records in the The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships which, this year, are held in Lyon. The elite competitors came to France this year in the hope of taking home a medal, although the games are marked by the absence of South-African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius.
Lyon is hosting the World Championships from July 19 to 28 at the “Stade du Rhône”, where 214 gold medals will be won over nine days. This is the second time France is hosting the IPC Athletics World Championships, which also took place in Lille in 2002. The first Paralympic Game were held in Rome, Italy in 1960 and the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, in 1976.
Breaking world records
Since the first day of the games in Lyon, five world records have been broken. Brazilian athlete Alan Oliveira set a new record for the 200m race in the double tibial amputee category. He ran the half-lap in 20”66 beating Oscar Pistorius’ 2012 record. Irishman Jason Smyth, performing in the T13 category, equaled his own world record in the 200m with a performance of 21”05, while Jarryd Wallace broke the simple tibia amputee 200m record with his race in 22”08. France obtained its first gold medal through Mandy Francois-Elie who won the 200m series and took the world record with a time of 28”35 in category T37. Finally, Brazilian athlete Veronica Hipolito set a new world record for the 100m T38 women with a time of 13”19.
The absence of Oscar Pistorius
This competition is also marked by the absence of the South-African athlete Oscar Pistorius. The sprint runner, who competes in events for single below-knee amputees and for able-bodied athletes, has been charged with murder over the death of his girlfriend last February 14. The trial of the athlete will begin on August 19 and his agent, Peet Van Zyl was quoted as saying: “athletics at this point is the furthest from his mind.”
The United States, Russia and Brazil ahead of the competitionSo far the United States are leading the World Championships, with 28 medals in total of which 10 are gold, eight are silver and 10 are bronze. Russia is close behind with a total of 24 medals – 10 gold, seven silver, and seven bronze. Brazil is currently in third position with nine gold medals, four silver, nine bronze and a total of 22 medals. Great Britain is in the chasing pack with 17 medals of which nine are gold, six are silver and two are bronze. Surprisingly, China is currently in seventh position with a total of 12 medals of which only four are gold.
Waiting for Rio
Lyon 2013 is the first step on the road to the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. According to the IPC Athletics World Championships Lyon 2013 website, this event “will be a unique opportunity to raise the general public’s awareness of para-sport regionally, in France and around the world.”
Behind the games
The IPC Athletics World Championships are also made possible thanks to the work of several associations and volunteers, which, this year amounted to more than 1,200 people. The organization of Lyon 2013 was undertaken by a specially created team, the Local Organising Committeee (LOC), a structure chaired by Gérard Masson, president of the French Handisport Federation, and commissioned by the IPC.