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Tokyo Paralympics show the power and passion of sport

Copyrights: Tokyo Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics show the power and passion of sport

The Tokyo Paralympic Games showed the power of inclusion for people with disabilities. Here is a recap of some of the highlights from the Games.

On 5 September 2021, the Tokyo Paralympic Games officially came to an end with a colourful and vibrant closing ceremony that took place at the Olympic Stadium, marking the end of nearly two weeks of Paralympic sport. Throughout the Games, athletes won medals, broke records, etched their names in history books, and inspired confidence, happiness, and hope around the world.

  1. Team USA accumulated a significant medal haul

The women-led Team USA's had a memorable and remarkable Paralympics. For the first time in history, the  US Paralympic team consisted of more women (121) than men (113). This is especially noteworthy given that the Paralympics have a much lower gender balance than the Olympics. 

The achievements of the female athletes were especially prolific - women won 61.5% of total medals won by the US (64 out of 120) and 62% of US gold medals at the 2020 Paralympic Games (23 out of 37).

American Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long left Tokyo with six new medals, including the gold in the women's SM8 200-meter individual medley. This was her fourth straight victory in the event, which means she has won gold at every Olympic Games since 2008. 

The American women's volleyball team won the Paralympic Gold over China, becoming the first country to sweep golds in all women’s volleyball competitions. Team USA also won Olympic gold in indoor volleyball and beach volleyball earlier this summer.

Other remarkable achievements by American Paralympians included wins by wheelchair superstar Tatyana McFadden, sprinter Jaleen Roberts, who broke two American records and won two silver medals in her Paralympic debut, and Mallory Weggman, who won two gold medals in the 100-meter backstroke in a close race and set a new Paralympic record.

  1. Two teenage swimmers won golds and broke world records

Anastasia Pagonis and Gia Pergolini, both 17-year-old Paralympic newcomers, won gold medals and set world records in swimming.

Pergolini, a two-time World Para Athletics Championship medalist, fulfilled a childhood dream by swimming on the Paralympic stage. “Since I was 12 I’ve been thinking about this, and seeing it all play out and come true is just crazy. I mean, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,”  she said  of her experience in Tokyo.

The Paralympics were also exciting for Pagonis, a rising social media star with 2 million TikTok followers who recently opened up to SELF about her Tokyo experience and how she manages her mental health.

  1. Jennette Jansen, a Dutch cyclist, won a gold 33 years after her first

Jennette Jansen, a Dutch cyclist, won gold in the women's H1–4 road race at the 2020 Olympic Games. Jansen's 10th Paralympic medal came 33 years after her first gold. Her medal collection covers seven Paralympic Games and three sports: athletics, wheelchair basketball, and cycling.

“I like sports very much, and it’s proving to myself I can still do this, although of course there will come a moment when the younger generation will pass me,” she said.

  1. Two Afghan Paralympians competed at Tokyo Games 

After the crisis in Afghanistan and ensuing political unrest, the Afghanistan Paralympic Team arrived in Tokyo and competed in the Games. Previously, the IPC claimed that Afghan athletes would not compete in the Games due to the country's political situation.

Zakia Khudadadi was the first Afghanistan female athlete to participate in the Paralympic Games in women's taekwondo since Athens 2004. Tokyo marked her Paralympic debut and she was the second female athlete to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympic Games.

Hossain Rasouli, 24, also made his Paralympic debut in Tokyo.“It is a dream to participate at the Tokyo Games,”  he said to the IPC.

  1. Wheelchair fencer Li Hao won China’ s 1st gold at Tokyo Paralympics

Li Hao from China beat Ukraine's Artem Manko in the men's sabre individual - Category A gold medal match to claim the nation's first gold medal at Tokyo 2020. This was the Chinese athlete’s Paralympic debut. 

  1. Yamada Miyuki won Japan's first medal at the home Games

Miyuki Yamada, a 14-year-old Tokyo swimmer, won the host nation's first medal at the Tokyo Paralympics, becoming the youngest Japanese to reach the podium in the history of the Games.

“I am so glad, because after finishing third in the preliminary heats, I didn’t expect that I could get a silver medal,” Yamada said.


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Shaista Akram


Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 06:45

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