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Tokyo Paralympics: Algerian athletes make history with two world records in one day

Skander Djamil Athmani and Safia Djelal smash world records as they take home the gold
Skander Djamil Athmani of Algeria celebrating after taking the gold medal in a world record time of 46.70 seconds in the men’s 400m (T13) athletics final during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (AFP)

Two Algerian athletes set new world records on Thursday at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

Skander Djamil Athmani, 29, defeated his opponents in the men’s 400 metres T13 event to take home the country’s second gold of the games.

Athmani smashed the world record, finishing with a dazzling time of 46.70 seconds. Morocco’s Mohamed Amguoun finished one second after Athmani, securing a silver medal, while Johannes Nambala of Namibia took home bronze.

Amguoun had held the previous world record of 46.92 seconds, which he set at the 2017 World Championships in London.

An Algerian athlete beating a Moroccan rival could have sparked controversy, after Algeria announced last week that it was officially severing ties with Morocco after months of tensions between the two countries.

However, an image of Athmani and Amguon embracing after the race circulated on social media, with users seeing the photograph as a symbol of unity.

Translation: A photo of the Algerian gold medalist in the 400 meter race, Djamil Athmani, and the Moroccan silver medalist Mohamed Amguoun. What politics separate, sports unite. Always brothers

Athmani was 20-years old when he decided to take up athletics in Algeria. Since then, he has secured multiple medals, including a silver won on Sunday in the men’s 100m T14 event. 

The decorated athlete took to Instagram on Thursday morning to celebrate his historic achievement.

Translation: Proud to be Algerian. Praise be to God, I achieved my dream, which is to let the whole world hear our national anthem.

Algeria’s jubilation did not end there.

Safia Djelal also went on to secure another gold for the North African country, as well as a new world record, this time in the women’s shotput F57 event.

With a staggering distance of 11.29 metres, Djelal gained a huge advantage over her opponents to take home the gold.   

The previous record was held by Mexico’s Maria De Los Angele Ortiz Hernandez in Dubai in 2018 with a distance of 11.16 metres.

“I am very happy, I can’t describe how happy I am, especially after setting a world and a Paralympic record. I can’t measure my happiness,” Djelal said.

“The competition was very tough and the competitors were all very strong. But I am thankful that I was very focused during the event. I had only one goal: to break the world record.” 

China’s Xu Mian took silver with a throw of 10.81 metres. Meanwhile, Eucharia Iyiazi from Nigeria secured bronze. 

On 27 August, Cherine Abdellaoui won Algeria its first gold medal of the Tokyo Games in the Paralympic women’s 52kg Judo event. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.