Visually-impaired athlete runs a jaw-dropping half-marathon time in Spain

Tigist Mengistu of Ethiopia, who is in the Paralympic T13 category for visual impairment, ran 66 minutes for the half.

For years, Paralympic athletes have continued to challenge the performance barriers between impaired and able-bodied athletes. On Feb. 5, at the Granollers Half Marathon in Granollers, Spain, Tokyo Paralympic T13 1,500m champion Tigist Mengistu of Ethiopia, came even closer to bridging the gap, winning the half-marathon in a blazing 66:41.

Mengistu’s time is the second-fastest half-marathon of 2023 and ranks inside the top 100 all-time. She also broke the previous course record of 1:10:24 by nearly four minutes.

In 2021, Mengistu, 22, was the first athlete from Ethiopia to win a Paralympic gold when she won the T13 1,500m in Tokyo. (T13 is the least severe of the three visual impairment categories for para-athletes.)

According to World Para Athletics Classification, an athlete in the T13 classification vision is constricted to a radius of fewer than twenty degrees and can recognize a tennis-ball-sized object at a maximum of five metres away.

To compete in the T13 category, Mengistu has to be accompanied by a guide, a task carried out by Spanish athlete and 65-minute half-marathoner Artur Bossy of Granollers.

Although she ran the fastest known T13 half-marathon time in history, the distance isn’t officially recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), therefore, it will only be considered a world best.

According to the IPC, athletes seeking Paralympic classification must go through several medical, visual and physical evaluations.

posted Tuesday February 7th
by Marley Dickinson