Record-breaking performances from Blackwell, Malone open 2023 World Para Athletics Championships for Team USA

by Kristen Gowdy

Jaydin Blackwell celebrates after setting a championships record in the men's 100-meter T38. (Photo by Marcus Hartmann/USOPC)

PARIS, FRANCE – Three-time Paralympic medalist Noah Malone (Fishers, Indiana) and world championships rookie Jaydin Blackwell (Oak Park, Michigan) posted championship records to set the tone for Team USA on the first day of action at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships.

In preliminary competition, the two sprinters set their meet records in the men’s 100-meter T12 (Malone) and men’s 100-meter T38 (Blackwell), each qualifying in the top spot for their respective finals.

Malone, an Indiana State University varsity track and field athlete who won three medals in his Paralympic debut in Tokyo, powered to a 10.50-second result. His time beat out the previous meet record of 10.54 seconds, set by Salum Kashafali of Norway in 2019. Malone has had a dominant season, including setting an unofficial world record in the 100-meter T12 last month and winning multiple conference titles in his NCAA season.

Blackwell, meanwhile, is making his international debut as a member of Team USA. In a stacked T38 field that also includes Paralympic champion Nick Mayhugh (Manassas, Virginia) and newcomer Ryan Medrano (Savannah, Georgia) of the U.S., Blackwell sprinted to a personal-best 10.87 en route to the top qualification spot for tomorrow’s final. His record-setting sprint broke a 10-year-old championship record of 10.93, set in 2013 by Evan O’Hanlon of France.

Paralympian Cody Jones (Simi Valley, California) placed sixth in the men’s javelin F38 competition, his only event in Paris. Jones’ best mark of the day was 41.54 meters.

Jones made his first major international appearance since the 2019 world championships. As he looks toward qualifying for his first Paralympic Games since Rio 2016, Jones said making the 2023 worlds team fueled him heading toward next summer.

“This has gotten me really excited,” he said. “I’ve seen my competitors now and they’re great, but I know I can give them a run for their money. The next year of training is going to look good, and you are going to see a much stronger, faster Cody soon.”

Five-time Paralympic medalist Lex Gillette (Raleigh, North Carolina) fell short of his sixth consecutive long jump T11 world title, placing seventh in his signature event with a best jump of 5.81 meters.  

Making their world championships debuts and history for Team USA were Frame Runners Michael Anwar (Spokane, Washington) and Sayers Grooms (Gainesville, Florida), who finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the men’s and women’s 100-meter T72 competitions. Anwar and Grooms are the first-ever American Frame Runners to compete at the world championship level.

Anwar’s time of 19.72 seconds was a personal best time, and he rounded out his first world championships top-seven in the world. Grooms, meanwhile, overcame a stroke of bad luck when one of her shoes fell off at the beginning of the race, causing her to fall out of medal contention. The 18-year-old finished eighth in 22.51 seconds.

The three-time Paralympic champion Mayhugh, alongside Medrano in his first international meet for Team USA, put together strong showings in their 100-meter competitions as well. Both advanced to the final after posting times of 11.15 and 11.39. Mayhugh placed second in his heat and qualified third overall. Medrano was fourth in his heat, earning a spot in his first career international event final.

Paralympian Erin Kerkhoff (Coralville, Iowa) rounded out the opening day of competition by running a season-best 12.81 in the women’s 100-meter T13 prelim and will compete in tomorrow’s final. Kerkhoff’s third-place result in her heat earned her an automatic qualification.

World championships competition resumes July 10 at 9 a.m. local time. For viewers in the United States, all sessions are streamed live on Peacock, and live results can be found here. For live updates and results from Team USA, follow U.S. Paralympics Track & Field on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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