Ray Martin won Team USA's first medal of the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships, a gold in the men's 1500 meter T51/52.
LYON, France - Competition opened at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, on Saturday with Team USA's Raymond Martin (Jersey City, N.J.) and Steven Toyoji (Campbell, Calif.) winning the gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the men's 1500 meter T51/52 final and Tobi Fawehinmi (Arlington, Texas) claiming silver in the men's long jump F46.
Medals were not the only highlight for the U.S. team on Day 1 as Jarryd Wallace (Athens, Ga.) set a world record in the second heat of the men's 200m T44 semifinal race, running a 22.32 to lay the groundwork for Sunday's final.
"I think the world record is going to last until tomorrow night when we have four guys going for it," said Wallace, who bested then-world record holder David Prince (Sarasota, Fla.) by a second. Prince set a world record, 22.47, at the 2013 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field National Championships in June.
"I came in training hard," said Wallace, a unilateral below the knee amputee. "I made a few technical changes with my leg about a month ago. I felt like it was the best decision heading into the world championships and it worked out today."
Jerome Singleton (Irmo, S.C.), the reigning IPC Athletics World Champion in the men's 100m and silver medalist in the 200m, won the first heat with a personal best time of 22.71.
"I'm looking forward to the final but we'll see," Singleton said. "I take it one race at a time."
With Wallace, Singleton and Prince handing in the top times, the Americans are poised to sweep the medals in the final on Sunday.
"That's what we came here to do and we'll see if it happens," Wallace said.
The 1500m gold medal marks the first world title for Martin, who was named the United States Olympic Committee's 2012 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year after winning four gold medals in four events at the Paralympic Games. He finished the race with a personal best 3:51.28.
"I felt confident," Martin said. "I felt good. I knew coming in that I didn't have the fastest seed time so it was going to be a tough race, which it was. Thankfully, it came out well in the end."
He has for events remaining on his schedule in Lyon, all of which he won gold in at the Games: 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m.
"It sets me up well going into the 800 tomorrow," Martin said. "I'm really excited."
The bronze medal marked a return to major international competition for Toyoji, a 2008 U.S. Paralympian who missed his shot at the London 2012 Paralympic Games because of an injury. Toyoji finished in 3:52.88, enough for third place, but led at 800m.
"It feels great to be back," said Toyoji, who had the No. 1 seed time. "Just being able to run with a big, elite pack like that was a lot of fun. It's been awhile since I've had a fun, tactical race like that. Winning a medal makes it a thousand times better. It is a huge plus for me."
The third American in the race, Isaiah Rigo (Cheney, Wash.), was not in contention for a medal. But with a fifth place time of 4:31.24 at only 14 years old, the youngest member of the U.S. team made a name for himself today in Lyon.
In the final event of the evening, Fawehinmi placed second in the men's long jump F46, his first medal at a major international competition. His silver medal winning mark of 7.04 meters is an American record.
"Winning the silver medal is a real accomplishment for me," he said. "I really didn't do well last year at the Games, I was sixth, so it was kind of redemption for me. I just thank God that I even got a medal. First place would have been great but second makes me happy."
In other evening finals, Jeff Skiba (Sammamish, Wash.) placed fourth in the men's high jump F44/46. Shaquille Vance (Houston, Miss.) placed fifth in the men's shot put F42 while Jorge Fernando Tarazon (Glendale, Ariz.) was seventh in the men's discus F11 with a personal best 32.56m.
Kristen Messer (Austin, Texas) was eighth with a 41.74 in the women's 200m T33/34 final.
The evening session also included the second win of the day for Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), who is racing in six events in Lyon. She won her women's 5000m T54 semifinal, in a time of 12:07.60, only hours after taking the top spot in the women's 200m semifinal with a personal best 28.41.
"It is tough after the Paralympic Games," the three-time 2012 Paralympic gold medalist said. "I don't think my body is where I want it to be right now but I still train every single day. Right now, it's about letting my training take me the rest of the way, even if my muscles are a little tired. I have to take each race one-by-one."
In the 200m, McFadden topped younger sister Hannah McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), who finished second in the same heat with a 31.31. American Cheri Becerra-Madsen (Union, Neb.), a multi medalist at the 1996 and 2000 Paralympic Games making her return to competition this season, placed first in the other semifinal heat with a personal best 30.37.
Three finals were held during the morning session, with U.S. athletes finishing in the Top 10 in all three events. Ahkeel Whitehead (San Diego, Calif.) had the highest finish, sixth in the men's long jump T37/38, with a season's best 5.32 meters on his first jump.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Stephanie Timmer (Naperville, Ill.), who began losing her sight in 1996 due to a progressive eye disease known as macular degeneration, finished eighth in the women's discus F11/12. She had a season's best throw of 27.68 meters, which came on her fifth attempt.
Khalid Jlidat (Boynton Beach, Fla.) threw a season's best 38.87 meters in his first attempt of the men's javelin throw F57/58, securing a ninth place finish.
Competition continues Sunday.
The 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, July 19-28, feature over 1,100 athletes, including 76 Americans, from nearly 100 countries. Live streaming is available at www.ParalympicSport.TV while live results are available at www.paralympic.org/events/lyon-2013.
For more information, please contact Jamie Blanchard, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-237-2179 or email@example.com.