Rio Paralympics: Four Paralympians beat Olympic 1,500m winner

Jaine Bridie
2 min readApr 11, 2021

Competing in the Paralympics men's 1,500m T13 final on Monday for visually-impaired athletes, the top-four finishers all ran faster than Olympic 1,500m champion Matthew Centrowitz Jr.

Abdellatif Baka of Algeria stormed to gold in a world-record time of 3:48.29, followed by Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia with silver and Henry Kirwa of Kenya with bronze. Remarkably Abdellatif's brother Fouad, who just missed out on the podium in fourth place, finished in a time of 3:49.84, which would still have been fast enough to get Olympic gold.

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"It wasn't easy to get this gold medal," Abdellatif Baka said. "I've been working one or two years nonstop, and it's been very, very hard for me."

Tactical race

The T13 classification is the least severe of the three classes for visually-impaired athletes at the Rio Paralympics.

Unlike other categories, the runners do not use blindfolds or guides.

While the T13 final had a fast pace from the start, the Olympic 1,500m event was a tactical race which started out unusually slow and only got going in the final lap. READ MORE: Alcoholic sprinter vows Rio ban won' 'break him'Centrowitz eventually won the gold in 3:50.00, the slowest winning time at an Olympics since 1932.

The American, who controlled the race pretty much from the start as he fought off all attempts at overtaking him, had set a personal best in the 1,500m last year in Monaco that was more than 20 seconds faster than his time in Rio.

The able-bodied world record of 3:26.00 was set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj in 1998.

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That still doesn't take anything away from what the four Paralympians have achieved as both events were held at the same venue at the Estadio Olimpico in Rio de Janeiro and did not involve wheelchairs or prosthetic racing blades.