The IPC Track and Field World Championships
A Record-Smashing Success

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Photographs courtesy of Össur Americas.

Between January 21–30, more than 1,000 competitors from 70 countries gathered at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, where athletic greats battled for track-and-field glory. Rivals jockeyed to make their mark in the last major international competition before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Spectators were not disappointed as Paralympic hopefuls crushed 57 world and 173 championship records in the ten-day blitzkrieg for the coveted podium.

Oscar the "Blade Runner" Pistorius locked horns with long-time rival Jerome Singleton. Determined to bring home the gold for the United States in the men's 100m T44, Singleton told the IPC, "Oscar's a fast man, and I really appreciate running with him. But the fastest man on no legs is going to have to beat the fastest man on one leg. It's time to do it."

Tensions mounted at the start of the race, causing medal contender Jim Bob Bizzell to disqualify with a false start. As with the race in Beijing in 2008, Singleton hammered out the better start only for Pistorius to close the gap as he barreled over the remainder of the track to the finish. Each athlete clocked in at 11.34 seconds, and after a lengthy deliberation, Singleton earned the narrow edge to win gold. South African Arnu Fouri captured the bronze.

SingletonPhotograph by Karen Boyle.

Ever the competitor, Pistorius said in an Össur, Reykjavik, Iceland, press release, "[Singleton] really is a phenomenal athlete…but I still think I may come and get it back from him another day." In addition to the silver he won in the 100m, the South African sprinter won gold in the men's 200m, 400m, and the 4x100m relay T44 class.

Other highlights included the men's 200m T42 race, when relative newcomer and decided underdog, bilateral lower-limb amputee Richard Whitehead of Great Britain, not only won the race, he also set a lifetime best and new championship record. The world-record holder in the marathon for a lower-limb amputee, Whitehead's explosive win in the shorter distance was unexpected. "I had to work hard to attack the bend before accelerating into the finish…. The opportunity was there, and I really wanted to smash it," he is quoted as saying in an Össur press release.


Australia's Kelly Cartwright, who lost a leg to cancer at age 15, crushed the long jump F42 world record to win gold. Cuban sprinter Yunidis Castillo earned a stunning gold hat trick in the women's 100m, 200m, and 400m, in the T46 upper-limb amputee class.

Defending Paralympic gold medalist, transtibial amputee Jeff Skiba captured the silver medal by leaping 1.96m in the men's high jump F44. He told the IPC, "You can't be unhappy with a medal, but this definitely makes me hungry for gold in London."

China went home with the largest medal tally, earning 58 medals overall, with 21 gold, 22 silver, and 15 bronze. Russia captured 18 gold, 11 silver, and six bronze, for 35 medals overall, and Great Britain ranked third, winning 38 medals overall, with 12 gold, nine silver, and 17 bronze.

Though the 2012 Paralympics will host close to 4,000 athletes from roughly 150 nations and is expected to draw 1.6 million attendees, it's hard to imagine a more exciting competition than the record-shattering events at Christchurch.

—Pam Martin


Dodge Becomes CAF Sponsor

Dodge, a New Chrysler Group brand, has been named one of the Challenged Athletes Foundation's (CAF) global partners as well as the title sponsor of CAF's Million Dollar Challenge ride down the California coastline. The partnership kicked off with Dodge hosting one of CAF's Catch a Rising Star swim clinics in Tempe, Arizona. CAF is also included in Dodge's test-drives for charities during the Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon series across the country.

OPAF Launches First Dance, Receives USTA Grant

OPAF and the First Clinics will launch an inaugural First Dance, an adaptive social dance clinic for persons with physical challenges, on Sunday, March 6 at Elegance in Motion Dance Studio in Auburn Hills, Michigan. First Dance is geared toward the physically challenged population who may remember the experience of social dance with a partner and would like to experience it again. First Dance provides a social setting, while partners offer balance and stability.

The event is sponsored by Special Opportunities in Advanced Rehabilitation (SOAR).

OPAF and the First Clinics also received a 2010 year-end grant from USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). USTA grants are awarded to programs that successfully combine tennis and education to help people with disabilities and children in underserved communities pursue their goals by leading healthier lives, succeeding in school, and becoming responsible citizens.

Otto Bock Named Paralympic Technical Service Provider

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has named Otto Bock, Duderstadt, Germany, as the official prosthetic, orthotic, and wheelchair technical services provider for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Working with LOCOG, Otto Bock will provide athletes competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games with immediate repairs to orthoses, prostheses, and wheelchairs at repair centers at the three Paralympic Village sites. Otto Bock will also create and manage smaller repair centers and mobile units at other selected competition venues.

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