Incredulous was the word as Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka won the men's 1500m T13 sprint event in a world record-breaking time of three minutes and 48.29 seconds at the Rio Paralympics on Sunday.
What made the spectacle special was that the top four athletes clocked times that would have won them the gold at the Rio Olympics 2016, had they participated in the 1500m run there.
The T13 classification is for runners who are legally blind but possess the least visual impairment. For eg, the events are classified under T11, T12 and T13. The higher the number, the lesser the impairment is, according to the Rio2016 website.
Gold medal winner Baka, when asked about his triumph, told Rio 2016 website, “It wasn't easy to get this gold medal. “I’ve been working one or two years non-stop and it’s been very, very hard for me.”
His time eclipsed that of USA's Matthew Centrowitz's who had a gold-winning time of 3:50.00 in the 1500m race at the Rio Olympics.
The American, who was a surprise winner in the slowest gold medal winning time in the 1500m race at the Olympics since 1932 said, "I was actually prepared for a fast race. I thought if it wasn't fast from the get-go, someone would take it in the middle," according to abc.net.au.
Disability is often looked upon as a curse, but despite being visually impaired, these 1500m sprinters have shown that the level of competition in Paralympics is not only close, but can actually be better than that in the Olympics.
Here is a replay of the full 1500m race at the Rio Paralympics 2016
— IPC Athletics (@IPCAthletics) September 11, 2016