IPC Athletics has announced that the 2016 Grand Prix series will feature 10 different track and field meetings in five continents between February and July, including an event in May that will act as the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games athletics test event.
The fourth IPC Athletics Grand Prix season will start in Canberra, Australia, between 5-7 February, and will coincide with the ACT Athletics State Championships. It will be the second time Oceania has held a Grand Prix following a successful meeting in Brisbane, Australia, earlier this year.
Between 15-16 March, the Grand Prix circuit will head to Asia and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before a week later (24-26 March) it moves to Tunis, Tunisia, for Africa’s sole event of the year.
Europe’s first Grand Prix of 2016 will be held in Grosseto, Italy, between 8-10 April, and two weeks later (22-24 April) Beijing, China, will stage a meeting for the fourth successive year.
In May, athletes will get a taste of what they can expect during September’s Paralympic Games when Rio’s Olympic Stadium hosts the Caixa Loterias Athletics Open Championships from 19-21 May. One week prior to this (13-14 May), Arizona State University will host the 2016 Desert Challenge Games.
The final three Grand Prix of the season will take place in Europe with the first two taking place either side of June’s 2016 IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto.
The superfast track of Nottwil, Switzerland, a venue that witnessed nine world records in 2015, will welcome many of the world’s leading athletes for the ParAthletics meet between 26-29 May. The German capital of Berlin will then host the penultimate Grand Prix of the season from 17-18 July.
The year’s final Grand Prix will take place in London, Great Britain, on the weekend of 23-24 July.
With the IPC introducing a "zero classification policy" for Rio 2016, next year’s Grand Prix series will be the best opportunity for National Paralympic Committees to have their athletes classified prior to the Paralympic Games.
Ryan Montgomery, the IPC’s Director of Summer Sports, said: "With the Paralympic Games fast approaching, next year’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix series is the most important yet with many athletes looking not just for form but also qualification opportunities for Rio 2016.
"In addition to September’s Paralympic Games, we also have two regional Championships – one in Asia/Oceania and one in Europe. These events, combined with the 10 Grand Prix events, ensure that next year will be the biggest and busiest year yet for the sport. These events also present suitable opportunities for athletes to be classified ahead of next September’s Paralympic Games.
"It is important that athletes get the opportunity to compete at the highest level and these events, which once again visit all five continents, will help improve the performances of athletes as they begin their final preparations for Rio 2016.
"We look forward to working with the event organisers to improve standards across the board and, most importantly, provide a strong and structured competition pathway on the road to Rio 2016."
Speaking about Canberra hosting the year’s opening Grand Prix, Phil Jones, the Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer, said. "This is an outstanding result for Australia’s best para-athletes, Athletics ACT and fans of the sport in Canberra.
"The Australian Institute of Sport and its facilities provide an ideal environment for the hosting of such a prestigious lead-in event to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and we look forward to working with our partners in the region to ensure the best possible competition opportunity for para-athletes from Australia and around the world."
The Grand Prix series was launched in 2013 and attracted 1,004 athletes from 67 countries. In 2015, the 10 Grand Prix events involved 2,434 athletes from 103 countries, showing that the events continue to grow in size and scale.
In addition to the Grand Prix series, 2016 will also be the first year the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) includes elite wheelchair racers. For the first time, a male and female winner will be determined over a 12-month period based on scoring earned via results from six iconic global races, and each will be awarded USD 50,000 for the Championships.
The new series is set to begin at the April 2016 Boston Marathon, which in 1975 became the first major US road race to recognise wheelchair participation. Including each of the AWMM qualifying races, Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW Berlin, the Bank of America Chicago and the TCS New York Marathons, AWMM Wheelchair Series X will begin at the April 2016 Boston Marathon and end upon completion of the April 2017 Boston Marathon. Each subsequent series will begin and end at the next AWMM race on the calendar.
Paralympic Games and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships races, when scheduled, will also count as part of the series. Scoring will follow existing AWMM rules with the only difference being the number of races that count for the title. In years without World Championships or Paralympic Games it will be the best four of seven races to score. In years with either of those events, it will be the best five of eight races to score.
Full details of the 2016 IPC Athletics Grand Prix season can be found here: http://www.paralympic.org/athletics/grand-prix-2016
For more information, contact:
Craig Spence, IPC Director of Media and Communications
+49 1703 899982
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