Many of the top athletes in summer Para sport will contest their first major international multi-sport competition since the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, when the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games take place from 4-15 April in Queensland, Australia.
Gold Coast 2018 will bring together up to 300 Para athletes across 38 medal events in seven Para sports: athletics, lawn bowls, powerlifting, table tennis, track cycling, triathlon and swimming. The Commonwealth Games is a unique event in that it combines both able-bodied and Para sport competitions in the same schedule.
Triathlon will make its debut in the Commonwealth Games, following on from the debut of its able-bodied counterpart at the last Games in Glasgow 2014.
Wheelchair marathon will also be added for the first time on the athletics programme.
Among the stars to light up the competition are four athletics world champions from the host nation. Australians Evan O’Hanlon, Isis Holt, Madison De Rozario and Cameron Crombie all enter with gold medals from the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
Joining them on the track and field is Paralympic and double world champion sprinter Sophie Hahn, who is the stand-out performer in Team England’s 17-strong Para athletics squad.
Karen Darke will be hoping to land another major title – this time in triathlon – as she is among the headliners for Team Scotland. Darke won cycling gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the women’s time trial H1-3.
Canadian table tennis player Stephanie Chan finished just off the podium at Rio 2016 in the women’s single class 7, but will try to make it on this time in the TT6-10 singles class.
Home favourite Melissa Tapper made headlines when she competed in both the Paralympics and Olympics in Rio, and will aim to do likewise in table tennis in the Gold Coast.
Ellie Cole and Brenden Hall will lead the swimming charge for Australia.
Cole will contest the 100m backstroke S9, an event she won at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Hall was a gold medallist in London and in Rio and will be competing in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke S9.
But the biggest rivalry to hit the pool comes between Sophie Pascoe and Aurelie Rivard. The pair finished one-two in Rio, with Canadian Rivard a triple Paralympic gold medallist. Pascoe will look to bring glory to New Zealand in the pool, as competed at three Paralympic Games and has won nine gold and six silver medals.
Nigeria has won all eight Commonwealth Games gold medals contested in powerlifting since the sport was introduced at Delhi 2010.
Reigning Paralympic and world champion Paul Kehinde will lead the Nigerian delegation. He is coming off a world-record performance from February’s World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Opening Ceremony will be held Wednesday (4 April), followed by the first day of competition on Thursday (5 April) with track cycling and swimming.