The Notwill Para Athletics Grand Prix continued to have stunning performances with three more world records broken on the last day of competition on Monday.
In her first ever race over 400m Belgian athlete Gitte Haenen set a new T42 world record showing an incredible start to her career. Haenen only begun competing six months ago after recovering from her amputation following an injury in Thai boxing many years ago. Haenen could well be one of the best ever as she broke the world record at her first attempt, running 1:28.76.
“I always wanted to be a world champion in Thai boxing but that’s not possible anymore. I thought just because I can’t be a Thai boxer anymore doesn’t mean I can’t be good in another sport. My motto is when life punches you, you punch back harder.” Said Haenen after her incredible performance.
Ben Rawlings of Great Britain also set his first world record as he won the men’s 500m T34 race in a phenomenal performance. Rawlings destroyed Austin Pruitt’s old record managing to take almost 20 seconds off of the old mark as he raced 12:02.00 to set the new mark, making a sub 12 minute race agonizingly close. For reference the men’s non-para world record is 12:37.35, making para athletes over 30 seconds faster.
That race was a phenomenal team performance from the British racers as Isaac Towers worked with him throughout the race to help the record. Towers and Rawlings worked together to push the pace and that’s what made the world record possible, with Rawlings giving credit to Towers after the race.
The final record which fell on the final day came in another 5000m race as Louzanne Coetzee of South Africa broke her own mark. She dropped a minute off her world record as she finished in 18:14.27 to complete a great meet for her.
With the home crowd behind him Marcel Hug wanted to go out and get back his 5000m T54 world record from Rawat Tana. He was able to race a negative split but just couldn’t get enough speed together as he finished in 9:48.48, just nine seconds shy of the record.
The women’s edition of the same race was a thrilling race and one that disappointed the home crowd as Lihong Zou beat Manuela Schar. The two set the pace from the very start of the race but in the end Zou was able to push away from Schar to win the race in a time of 11:42.58, just two seconds clear of Schar.