News & Updates

19 May 2024 • Para Athletics

Stedman claims stunning world title and Ramsden sets national 1500m record

Will Stedman makes his lunge for gold in the men's 400m T36 final at the 2024 Para Athletics World Championships in Kobe, Japan. Credit: Augusto Bizzi

Will Stedman executed a tactical masterclass to secure an exhilarating gold medal success in the final of the men’s 400m T36 on day three of the Para Athletics World Championships in Kobe, Japan.

The 24-year-old Christchurch-based athlete has four times mounted the 400m T36 podium at a global championship, but today he finally climbed on to the top step by producing the run of his life to overhaul defending champion James Turner of Australia to snag victory in a national record of 53.36.

Turner, the world record-holder and Paralympic champion, had to settle for silver on this occasion 0.16 further back. Fakhr Eddine Thelaidjia of Algeria claimed bronze in 54.53.

On a wet morning in Kobe and with Stedman drawn in lane four, the experienced Kiwi had the advantage of seeing most of his main rivals on his outside. However, it was Evgenii Shvetsov, a Neutral Para Athlete, who was prominent in the first half of the race tracked by Turner. Preferring a more conservative approach Stedman flashed by the 200m mark in fourth – a little over a second-and-a-half off the pace.

Nonetheless, as Shvetsov started to fade around the final bend, Stedman started to challenge and leading into the home straight he kicked clear of Thelaidjia and set off in pursuit of Turner.

Stride by stride he closed in on the Australia and timing his challenge to perfection metres he surged ahead in the final five metres – his lunge for the line leading to the Kiwi crashing to the wet track moments after passing the finish line.

It was an epic display by Stedman, who completed the full suite of medals in this event at the Para Athletics World Championships having previously snared bronze in 2019 and silver in 2023. He managed to trim 0.19 from his national record and also, significantly, defeated Turner, a dominant force in this event for so long.

Stedman, a two-time Paralympic men’s 400m T36 bronze medallist, said: “It was as close as its going to get to a perfect race. I got out well and ran a good first 200m, staying nice and relaxed. Then started pushing around the bend and in that last 100m just focused on being relaxed.

“It wasn’t until 50m to go when I saw Jimmy (James Turner) getting closer and I thought something could happen here. Then in the last ten metres, although my legs were completely shot, the momentum managed to carry me through. I’m really happy with the way I ran that race, in those conditions and to run a PB – is really cool.

“It feels awesome to have won gold. A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work into me and my programme and to be able to express that (by winning gold) is really satisfying.”

Stedman will return to action inside the Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium next Saturday when he competes in the men’s long jump T36 final.

Earlier today, Maia Ramsden scalped almost four seconds from her PB to set a New Zealand women’s 1500m record of 4:02.58 at the USATF Los Angeles Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old Kiwi finished 11th in the race won by Ethiopian Diribe Welteji in 3:55.25 and just missed out on the Olympic entry standard by 0.08.

In a further measure of the quality of the performance, Ramsden, a Harvard University student, took more than two seconds from the former New Zealand record mark of 4:04.82 set by Nikki Hamblin in 2011.

Ramsden, the 2023 NCAA 1500m champion, said: “I’ve had that number (the NZ record) in my mind for a long time, I could not be happier to have broken it, it feels really special. 

“It was an amazing field, and I knew the race would be really fast. I feel really grateful to line up with those competitors, I tried to hang on and close hard. I got a couple of people in the last 400m, which I was really happy with. It was a nice confidence boost. I was quite nervous going into it, because I was up against a lot of experienced racers on that start line. 

“It is super close to the Olympic standard, and I am a little bit gutted to be that close – 0.08 is a lean to the line or the wind changing direction. But for the most part I am super happy. I ran a PB, got a national record and season is not done yet, I will have other opportunities.” 

***Anna Grimaldi is the next Kiwi athlete in action at the 2024 Para Athletics World Championships. Anna competes in the women’s 100m T47 final at 9.56pm.

***For more details on the team and a full schedule of when the Kiwis compete go here  

***To follow a livestream of the action at the 2024 Para Athletics World Championships in Kobe go to the Para Athletics Facebook page or visit the IPC YouTube channel.

***For live results go here

***Athletics New Zealand will provide session by session wraps when the Kiwis compete and also provide detailed updates via our social channels.