/ 24 August 2021

Pumped for the Paras…

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If the Olympic Games got your engine running, get ready to rev it up for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. The opening ceremony kicks off at 9.00pm tonight, and events will run from tomorrow until Sunday, 5 September. It’s the 2nd time the Paralympics will be hosted in Japan’s capital, and there are 4,400 Paralympians from 176 countries competing in 540 events across 22 sports. Australia has sent our largest Paralympic team yet: 179 athletes are competing across 18 sports.

Let’s get COVID out of the way first… On Saturday, Japan recorded new 15,733 cases, and a state of emergency is still in place in Tokyo. It means all but a handful of events will be held without spectators, just like the Olympics. Now that’s out of the way, a rundown on how things work, yes? The thing to know: the classification system groups athletes whose impairments similarly affect them together. Paralympians go through rigorous testing to see if they are eligible to compete, and then they are allocated a class depending on how much their impairment impacts their performance. It’s different across each sport and every event, but the classification is key.

Australia finished 5th on the gold medal tally with 22 gold, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Five years on, our Aussie stars are set to shine in Tokyo… Tennis star Dylan Alcott is going for the Golden Slam title – that’s sports talk for winning all 4 tennis majors and Paralympics gold. There are 32 swimmers going for glory in the pool, including 6-time gold medallist Ellie Cole, 7-time medallist Matthew Levy, and youngster Tiffany Thomas Kane – she won 4 medals in Rio when she was just 15yo. Australia’s wheelchair rugby team, the Steelers, are going for their 3rd consecutive gold medal. And there are high hopes for Daniel Michel, who could break Australia’s 25-year medal drought in boccia – a sport unique to the Paralympics. Bring it on [insert flexed arm emoji]…

And if you’re as excited about the Paralympics as we are, the Sport Today podcast team have you covered with a Squiz Shortcut on how it works and who to watch. Check it out.

Image source: Getty

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