By Tosten Burks
Sunday night in Rio, Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka took home gold in the T13 class 1500-meter final, narrowly edging out Ethiopia’s Tamiru Demisse and Kenya’s Henry Kirwa. All three runners (along with the fourth-place finisher, Abdellatif’s brother Fouad) finished the race faster than any athlete at last month’s Olympic Games.
Abdellatif Baka, 22, clocked a Paralympic world record time of three minutes and 48.29 seconds—more than a second faster than Matthew Centrowitz’s winning time in the Olympic men’s 1500m in August. This was Baka’s second Paralympics; as a teenager in London, he won gold in the 800m.
The T13 class of competition is for visually impaired athletes with limited vision, which the International Paralympic Committee defines as a “visual field of less than 20 degrees.” By another standard, T13 athletes have “no more than 10 percent functional vision.”
In other words, Baka is mostly blind. His 1500m gold medal performance also set a personal record.
“It wasn't easy to get this gold medal,” Baka says. “I’ve been working one or two years non-stop and it’s been very, very hard for me.”
- Originally appeared at Sports.GOOD.Is