The international governing body of para-athletics, International Paralympic Committee or IPS, has announced its plans to hold six Grand Prix competitions this year. The events will give opportunity to para-athletes to compete in an excellent and world-class stage.
Online PR News – 08-February-2013 – United Kingdom – This announcement from the IPC is in addition to the confirmation of the host cities for the forthcoming World Championships and London's hosting of the first IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup in April.
The Grand Prix events will kick off in Dubai on March 23 to 26 at the Dubai Club Special Sports and continue to Beijing, China. The series will head to four other host cities such as Sao Paulo in Brazil, Grosseto in Italy, Arizona in USA, and finally closes in Berlin, Germany.
According to Ed Warner, the chairman of IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee and head of British Athletics, the series of events is a direct legacy to the success of London 2012. "Over 1.1 million tickets were sold for the Olympic Stadium whilst many global broadcasters pulled in record audiences for track and field events," he said.
The IPC chairman added that the Grand Prix will serve as a trial to give the IPC the opportunity to improve the standards off the track and will be able to provide more doors for para-athletes in the long run. "Should the trial be successful then we will look at how we can expand these events in 2014 and beyond," he added.
For Britain's 100m and 200m double wheelchair world champion Hannah Cockroft, this announcement is a great one. She feared that para-athletes will have to wait for another four years to be in a worldwide stage. "However, the Grand Prix events and the World Championships will give us plenty of chances to become the best in the world and keep the public interested in our training and achievements allowing us to retain an elite status," she said.
Brazil's Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira, who became famous at the London 2012 when he won over Oscar Pistorius 200m, agreed that international events such as the Grand Prix is very important, especially that Paralympics is gaining solid following worldwide. "Athletes are more motivated and the Paralympic sport does not stop growing. Now I'm back on training and I'm working strong. We must be prepared. I'm very excited for this year," Oliveira said.
Warner said that after the Grand Prix events were announced, other World Championship tournaments have been determined and planned out, starting this year up to 2017. With regional competitions also set in place, para-athletes now have a clear direction on all the events, including major international meet, which they can join in leading up to the Olympic Games in Rio, and beyond.
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