Three world titles, three gold medals at the Parapan American Games, multiple world records and the crown of world’s fastest female para-athlete — all these ensured 2015 was a year to remember for Cuban sprinter Omara Durand.
Her performances this year, her first back after giving birth to her daughter Erika, make it to No. 7 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.
Heading into 2015, Durand was no stranger to the athletics scene.
The 24–year-old won two world titles in 2011, and repeated that success at London 2012, her second Games, having made her Paralympic debut at just 16.
But after taking a three-year sabbatical from the track to start a family following London 2012, no one knew what form Durand would comeback with. This included herself, as she prepared for her first major event back – August’s Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
“I took part in Toronto 2015 both to see if I could still compete at a high level after being far from the track for so long, and to prepare myself for the Doha 2015 World Championships, which are my biggest goal of the year.”
Durand announced her comeback in style smashing the 100m world in the heats in Toronto. Despite an extremely wet track due to an earlier storm, the T12 sprinter clocked 11.65 seconds to lower the previous best for her class by 0.26 seconds. Her time also made her the world’s fastest female para-athlete.
She duly went on to win gold in the final with an even faster time, which was sadly wind assisted, and the very next day added the 400m title to her achievements.
She saved the best for last in Toronto. In winning 200m T12 gold, she broke the world record in both the semi-finals and the final. In her first run over 200m, she clocked 23.87, 0.59 seconds quicker than the previous world record that she lowered again in the final with 23.67.
Full of confidence, she arrived at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, as one of the star athletes to look out for. She did not disappoint.
The 400m was her first event. After breaking the championship record in the heats, she stormed to gold in 53.05, a world record by 0.62 seconds.
She lowered her own 200m world record twice on the way to her second world title in Doha. First she ran 23.38 in the heats, before running an incredible 23.03 in the final.
Durand’s final event in Doha was the 100m. In the heats, she clocked a championship record 11.66, which was just 0.01 seconds outside her own world record.
Like in Toronto, she saved her best for last and in the final sprinted to gold in a remarkable 11.48, 0.17 seconds quicker than she had ever run before.
Without doubt, Durand is now firmly established as the world’s fastest para-athlete, a position she cemented in September when she won a special race to mark one-year-to-go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Lining up against Brazil’s T11 sprinter Terezinha Guilhermina and T47 teammate Yunidis Castillo, Cuba’s most decorated athlete, Durand eased to the win in 12.24 seconds.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.