The Kobe 2024 Para Athletics continued with further excitement. GETTY IMAGES

Despite the rain, the excitement persisted on the third day of competition in Kobe on Sunday, from the initial starting gun to the last jump, particularly the final one.

The conclusion of the men’s long jump T63 event unfolded dramatically in the final round, marking the end of the night's competition. As the last competitors, the Netherlands’ Joel De Jong and Germany’s Leon Schaefer were separated by a mere one centimetre. 

De Jong managed to add two centimetres to his final jump, edging ahead by the narrowest of margins. However, Schaefer summoned his remaining energy and propelled himself 19 centimetres beyond his previous best, achieving a gold medal-winning distance of 7.22 meters, successfully defending his title from Paris 2023.

“I’m good, I’m excited, glad that I took it home for the third time," Schaefer said. "It was good that he (De Jong) jumped further than me because I know I can jump a lot further. And I don’t know, but I just need the pressure. Feels good, I was like ‘ok boy, that’s what you’re made for, show them what you got."

Sabrina Fortune of Great Britain stood out as the sole athlete to break a world record on the day. The reigning championship record holder from Dubai 2019 achieved this feat twice in the women’s shot put F20 event, surpassing the previous mark by 17 centimetres each time. Remarkably, in her final throw, she extended the record by an additional 17 centimetres, establishing a new standard at 14.73 meters.

Fortune said, “I just had to tell myself (after the 14.56m world record) not to celebrate too early because that’s a PB in itself, but I knew if I overdid it, I wouldn’t throw any further. I had to keep a straight face, I kept going to grin, but I knew I had to hold it together right through the competition. I was over the moon with 14.73m. It’s hard to put into words how it felt to throw even further. I just wanted to run round and round in circles.”

Trio of nations grab gold

Ecuador, New Zealand, Georgia, and Hungary all celebrated their inaugural gold medals. Ecuador's Kiara Rodriguez clinched the top spot in the women’s 100m T47 with a season-best time of 12.27 seconds. 

Meanwhile, William Stedman of New Zealand surged ahead in the final 100 meters of the men’s 400m T36, securing gold with a personal best of 53.36 seconds. Georgia's Giga Ochkhikidze set a championship record in the men’s shot put F53 with an 8.79m toss, just shy of the world record by five centimetres.

In the women’s 100m T38 final, Hungary's Luca Ekler edged out her competition by setting a season record, winning by a narrow margin of 0.03 seconds. Uzbekistan secured their second gold of Kobe 2024 as Yokutkhon Kholbekova triumphed in the women's long jump T12 with a mark of 5.48m. Spain's Sara Martinez claimed silver, while Uran Sawada of the host nation took bronze.

Neutral Para athlete Denis Gnezdilov set a new championship record in the men's shot put F40 with a throw of 11.36m. Miguel Monteiro of Portugal earned silver, with Iraq's Garrah Tnaiash taking bronze.

Landmark achievements

Mohamed Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates secured his first World Championships gold since Christchurch 2011 in the men's 400m T34, marking the UAE’s first gold in this year’s competition. Alhammadi, the 2016 Paralympic champion in the 800m T34, narrowly edged out Tunisia’s Walid Ktila by 0.02 seconds, finishing in 51.10 seconds.

Germany’s Merle Marie Menje dominated the women’s 800m T54, seizing control at the 200-meter mark and maintaining her lead to the finish line. China’s Zhou Zhaoqian and Tian Yajuan secured silver and bronze, respectively, with a tight finish among the top four.

In the men’s high jump T47, Roderick Townsend of the United States cleared the 2-meter mark despite challenging conditions. He surpassed the bar in his final attempt at 1.99 meters before clearing 2.05 meters in just two tries, securing gold over India’s Nishad Kumar, who settled for silver.

Namibia’s Chris Kinda clinched his country’s first gold in the championships in the men’s 400m T11. Narrowing a 0.64-second gap in the final stretch, Kinda crossed the finish line in 52.35 seconds, inspired by Namibia's inaugural Paralympic gold medalist. France’s Pierre Fairbank, a seven-time Paralympic medalist, returned to the top of the podium with a time of 51.71 seconds in the men’s 400m T53, securing France’s first gold in Kobe.

Brazil's Thalita Vitoria Simplicio da Silva won gold in the women’s 400m T11, crossing the line with a season-best time of 57.45 seconds. Additionally, Andre Rocha claimed gold for Brazil in the men's discus F52 event. With these victories, Brazil ranks second in both gold and overall medals after three days of competition.

Chinese delight

China continued its dominance at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium on Sunday, securing four gold medals. Among the highlights was Yao Juan's impressive season-best toss of 43.09 meters in the women’s discus throw F64, while Mexico's Osiris Aneth Machado Plata set a new Americas record with a 40.35-meter throw, earning the silver.

In the women’s javelin throw F34, China clinched the top two spots, with Zou Lijuan setting a championship record at 21.22 meters. The nation also dominated the women’s 800m T53 and the women’s 200m T35 events, securing gold-silver finishes in both. With ten gold, eight silver, and eight bronze medals, China maintains its lead on the medal table, boasting a total of 26 medals.

Complete results from Sunday can be found here.