The IPC Athletics Grand Prix heads to Grosseto, Italy, this week (12-14 June) for three days of track and field action - the third time the Tuscan city has played host to the Grand Prix series.
Record numbers are set to line up for the eighth in the 2015 series of meetings, with more than 470 athletes from 38 nations around the world taking part in the event which also doubles as the Italian Open Championships.
The Grand Prix venue - the Carlo Zecchini stadium - will also host the 2016 IPC Athletics European Championships and many of Italy's top para-athletics stars - including double world sprint champion Oxana Corso (T35), Paralympic and world shot put champion Assunta Legnante (F11), world 800m champion Annalisa Minetti (T11) and Paralympic 100m silver medallist Alvise de Vidi (T51) will be hoping to give the local crowds plenty to cheer about.
Here are `10 to Follow' in Grosseto this weekend:
- Martina Caironi (100m, 200m, long jump T42)
The poster girl of Italian para-athletics is in terrific form, having equalled the long jump T42 world record with a leap of 4.60m in Spain last month. The 25-year-old then went on to break her own 100m and 200m T42 world records in Nottwil, Switzerland, two weeks ago clocking 15.15 and 32.32 respectively; what will she be capable of on home soil?
- Ilse Hayes (100m, 200m T13)
The South African became the fastest female para-athlete in the world when she crossed the line in 11.89 seconds at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil less than two months ago. World silver medallist over the 100m in Lyon, France, in 2013, Hayes will be hoping to maintain her winning ways this year as she looks to reclaim the global 100m title she won back in 2011.
- Yunidis Castillo (200m, 400m T46)
Cuba's triple world and Paralympic champion arrives in Europe to compete in her first IPC Athletics Grand Prix of the 2015 season. Castillo turned 28 last Saturday (6 June) and will no doubt be hoping she has something to celebrate in Italy this week as preparations continue for the defence of her three world titles in Doha, Qatar this October.
- Mandy Francois-Elie (100m, 200m T47)
When it comes to women's T37 sprinting, the 25-year-old world record holder is hard to beat. Born in Martinique and competing for France, Francois-Elie holds the global titles in both the 100m and 200m T37, as well as the Paralympic and European crowns in the shorter sprint. Last year she topped the rankings in both the 100m and 200m T37 and will be hoping her first IPC Athletics Grand Prix of the year brings similar results.
- Sophie Hahn (100m, 200m T38)
The Briton sits second in the 2015 world rankings for the 100m T38 behind Australia's Ella Pardy, after a terrific race at the season opener in Dubai, UAE earlier this year where Hahn clocked 13.18 to take the win ahead of her compatriot Olivia Breen (13.73). The pair go head-to-head again in Grosseto this weekend, with world record holder Hahn looking to maintain her domination in world championship year.
- Paul Blake (100m, 400m T36)
World champion over 400m in 2011 then over 800m in 2013, the 25-year-old tops the rankings in the 400m T36 this year after finishing first in Dubai in February with a time of 56.26. The Briton will be hoping for another winning performance on the Italian track, but he will have to get past the likes of last year's Grosseto Grand Prix winner Loukas Protonotarios who finished third behind Blake in Dubai.
- Mohamed Berrahal (100m, 400m T51, discus F51)
Algeria's multi-talented world medallist takes on three events in Grosseto, and faces stiff competition each time. Out on the track the Paralympic 100m T51 bronze medallist faces home favourite Alvise de Vidi, who finished second ahead of Berrahal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Roles were reversed a year later in Lyon, France, when Berrahal clinched silver - who will come out on top this time?
- Aigars Apinis (shot put, discus F52)
Apinis tops the world rankings this year in both the shot put (9.73m) and discus F52 (18.36m) after having triumphed at the season opener Dubai Grand Prix in the UAE back in February. The Latvian won world shot put gold when he equalled his own global record mark of 10.23m back in 2013, whilst he picked up world bronze behind Berrahal in the discus - the pair meet again in Grosseto in the men's discus F51-54.
- Pierre Fairbank (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m T53)
The Frenchman recorded seasons' bests over 100m, 200m and 400m at the Grand Prix in Nottwil two weeks ago, finishing second behind the reigning world champion Brent Lakatos in the two shorter sprints, as well as a close third place finish over 800m. Double gold medallist at last year's European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain, the 43-year-old is no stranger to victory in the Grand Prix series, having won in Dubai back in February.
- Hilton Langenhoven (400m, long jump T12)
An exciting battle is on the cards as world long jump champion Hilton Langenhoven lines up against fellow South African and world 100m silver medallist Jonathan Ntutu once again. Langenhoven has already enjoyed victories in Dubai, UAE and Sao Paulo, Brazil this year. But it is Ntutu who tops the 100m T12 rankings for 2015 after clocking 11.10 in South Africa two months ago. The pair also raced together over 200m at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix where Ntutu came out on top in 22.52, whilst Langenhoven won the long jump.
Live results from the Grosseto Grand Prix can be found at http://www.fidalservizi.it/risultati/2015/GrossetoFispes2015/Index.htm
For accreditation to the Grosseto Grand Prix please contact Luca Cassai at firstname.lastname@example.org