What Para? They're faster than Olympic winner
RIO DE JANEIRO: The world may be a blur for these athletes, but when it comes to performance, they have the ability to beat any person in this world. Their tenacity and determination are second to none. Perhaps, because of their impairment, their ability to endure is much more, and that is reflected on the track. Long distance is about endurance -- both physical and mental.
Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka proved he is better than any ablebodied athlete after claiming the T13 1,500m title on Tuesday at the Paralympics in Rio with a worldrecord timing of 3:48.29s. He was 1.7s faster than Matthew Centrowitz; the American who won the same event at the Olympics last month. The effort now stands as the fastest 1500m time recorded by an able-bodied or disabled athlete in Rio over both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
If that wasn’t enough to drive home the fact that a steeled mind has the ability to trump even a normal athlete, the three other men who finished behind Abdellatif too one-upped Centrowitz’s timing. Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia took silver in a time of 3:48.49s, while Henry Kirwa from Kenya finished with bronze in 3:49.59s. Fouad Baka - the brother of the gold medallist - finished outside the medals, but clocked 3:49.84 – again ahead of the Olympic gold time.
In terms of severity, the T13 classification is lesser as compared to its T11 and T12 counterparts. But, the visual acuity of this category - 2/60 to 6/60, which translates into an eyesight that is 10 to 30 times poorer than normal - underscores the magnitude of the four Paralympians’ performances. Quite in contrast to the Olympic event in which the participants stay in a pack for most of its duration, the runners in the T13 final upped the pace right from the beginning. Abdellatif, in particular, was determined to stand tallest on the podium.
That intent was evident in his intensity. Though Demisse tried his very best to overtake the Algerian, the latter was in no mood to surrender his moment of glory. A few moments later and with his arms still flailing, he made his way into his nation’s sporting history. “It wasn’t easy to get this gold medal,” he said. “I have been working one or two years non-stop and it’s been very, very hard for me.”