Paralympic star Vanessa Low is Australia’s golden girl once more, adding another world title to her collection on Day Seven of the World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan while teenage sprint star – and New South Wales Institute of Sport scholarship athlete – Mali Lovell made it a complete set of medals for Australia by claiming bronze.

Claiming her second consecutive global medal at just 19-years-old, Mali Lovell (NSW, Katie Edwards & Melinda Gainsford Taylor) laid her talent on the track in the 200m T36, showing the world she is a true contender for a medal at her maiden Paralympic Games in Paris.

Sprinting out of the blocks and around the bend in 29.81 (-0.1), the Sydneysider clocked a time just 0.14-seconds off her Australian record to grab onto the medal, defeated only by Kiwi sprint sensation Danielle Aitchison who took the crown and world record from Shi Yiting (CHN) in 27.47, with the Chinese athlete in second in 28.06.

“I was pretty nervous but as soon as the gun set off, I just went! It’s just so surreal, the hard work has paid off. I have been training hard and getting all the one-percenters done, that’s what matters,” Lovell said.

“I’m not sure how much faster I can go, we’ll find out in Paris.”

Mali Lovell with NSWIS strength and conditioning coach Billy Macklin (2022)

Returning to her peak after giving birth, reigning Paralympic champion Vanessa Low (ACT, Scott Reardon) proved that motherhood is no barrier to global domination, leaping to glory in the Long Jump T63 and setting a new championship record of 5.29m (-0.1) when narrowly missing her own world record of 5.33m.

Securing an emphatic 63cm victory over silver medallist Tomomi Tozawa (JPN), Low delivered a slick series with four jumps over the five-metre barrier, coasting to gold to set up her Paralympic title defense in Paris.

“This is just so exciting. I know there is more there, but I’m so happy to be in this position given the challenging prep leading up to this moment,” Low said.

“I had about a 10-week injury break from jumping, and the prep for this was really difficult. We didn’t want to jeopardies Paris by coming here, but I’m really glad that I came and I’m really happy with how I performed.

“After last year, I was confident that I could build back up to my normal self. Going into Paris last year, it was probably a bit rushed but I’m a better athlete now than I was before pregnancy and more physically capable than I was before I was a mother.

“Being a mother gives me some extra superpowers and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in Paris, knowing we still have about 100 days to go.”

Fellow Australian Abby Craswell (QLD, Andrew Craswell & Sebastian Kuzminski) trailed in sixth place with a time of 34.40, backing up her fifth place finish in the 100m T36 in 15.31 (+0.7).

Adding to the finals action, Jackson Hamilton (WA, Morgan Ward) clinched fifth place in the Javelin Throw F13 when launching to a 58.72m effort to build further international experience in his budding career, producing the distance in the fourth round as the competition was won by Daniel Pembroke (GBR) with 66.96m throw – a mark well within Hamilton’s grasp ahead of Paris 2024.

Rising wheelchair racing star Luke Bailey (NSWIS, Andrew Dawes) made light work of the 100m T54 heats, with the sprinter crossing the line in 14.35 to secure his place in Day Eight’s final. Canberran Samuel Carter (ACT, Fred Periac) missed out on a lane in the final, clocking 14.57 for fifth in his heat.

Entering the stadium for the third time this championships, the versatile Sarah Clifton Bligh (NSW, Louise Sauvage) strapped up for the 800m T34 heats, but missed out on the final when finishing fifth in 2:51.48. Her result comes after placing seventh in the Shot Put F32 (5.28m), and fifth in Heat 2 of the 100m T34 (23.84).

In other results throughout the week, a trio of Australians finished just shy of the podium, with former world champion Corey Anderson (QLD, Lukas Cannon) throwing the spear 49.73m for fourth place in the Javelin Throw F38, and Australia’s fastest Paralympian Chad Perris (ACT, Matt Beckenham) repeated his feats from the 2023 edition of the championships, missing the podium by a whisker with a 10.82 (+0.9) run. Global medallist Sarah Walsh (ACT, Matt Beckenham) flew to a season’s best of 5.14m in the Long Jump T64 for fourth place as she builds up to her third Paralympic Games.

Three-time Paralympic medallist Jaryd Clifford (VIC, Philo Saunders) raced to his second consecutive sixth-place finish of the championships when clocking 3:55.63 in the 1500m T13 to back up his 5000m T13 performance, while Ari Gesini (ACT, Sebastian Kuzminski) also leapt to sixth place in the Long Jump T38 with a distance of 6.03m (+1.9).

Australian record holder Samuel Rizzo (VIC, Richard Colman) was unlucky to miss out on a spot in the 1500m T54 final, crossing the finish line in 2:04.24.

The 2024 World Para Athletics Championships continue tomorrow through until Saturday, May 25 and can be watched live and free on Nine’s digital platform, 9now.

Sascha Ryner and Lachlan Moorhouse, Athletics Australia

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