Eighteen medallists from the Rio 2016 Paralympics are set to compete at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in São Paulo this weekend with three days of action due to begin tomorrow at the Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre.
Among the 180-plus athletes from seven countries lining up at the venue, which opened in May of last year, is five of Brazil’s Rio 2016 gold medallists.
One of them is men's 100 metres T47 sprinter Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos, who was just 19-years-old when he smashed the world record which had stood for 24 years, on his way to his first Paralympic title.
A winner at last year’s Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro, Ferreira dos Santos goes up against Brazil’s experienced sprinter Yohansson Nascimento, who won 200m T47 gold at the 2015 World Championships in Doha.
Ricardo Costa da Oliveira delighted the home crowds at Rio 2016 when he clinched the men’s long jump T11 gold with his last leap of the competition.
He will be looking to make another big impact this year, having finished out of the medals at Doha 2015.
Reigning Paralympic and world champion Daniel Martins of Brazil is expected to provide tough competition for the likes of Argentinian Alan del Valle in the men’s 400m T20.
Martins was in excellent form seven months ago at Rio 2016, breaking the world record he set at this event in May of last year.
Compatriot Claudiney Batista dos Santos set a new discus F56 Paralympic record when he threw 45.33m to take gold at Rio 2016 and also set a new javelin F56 world record of 42.74m to finish fifth in the javelin F57 final.
The 38-year-old, who won discus silver and javelin bronze at Doha 2015, takes on the discus, javelin and shot put in São Paulo.
Alessandro Rodrigo Silva, the Paralympic champion in the men’s discus throw F11, will also be representing the home nation.
Brazil’s former Paralympic champion Terezinha Guilhermina returns to competition in the women’s 100m T11 after what she admits was a disappointing Paralympic Games in Rio.
The visually impaired sprinter was disqualified in the 100m and 200m, winning bronze in the 400m T11.
She is back this year with a new coach, Daniel Biscola.
Fellow Brazilians Jerusa Geber Santos and Jhulia Santos, world silver and bronze medallists respectively at Doha 2015, are also likely to be in the mix for medals.
Guilhermina has opted to compete in the women’s long jump T11 as well this year.
Her Brazilian team-mate Lorena Salvatini Spoladore, who won Paralympic bronze in Rio to add to her world silver from 2015 and world gold from 2013, is expected to provide tough opposition.
Two medallists from Rio 2016 will compete in the women’s shot put F11/12 in São Paulo.
F11 thrower Izabela Campos of Brazil won Paralympic bronze last year, while Rebeca Valenzuela Alvarez was one of Mexico’s five Paralympic medallists after winning bronze in the shot put F12.
Campos, who won world shot put bronze at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon and discus bronze at Doha 2015, will also take on the discus and javelin.
The event in São Paulo doubles as the Loterias Caixa Athletics Open Championships.
Many athletes will have an eye on meeting the qualification criteria required for this year’s World Championships in London.