After a year long delay, this summer's Olympic Games brought a lot of excitement to the world. What's better than seeing the finest athletes from nearly every country go head-to-head, day-after-day, in exhilarating competition? It's quite a thrill!
In which case, we have great news. The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics start tomorrow!
With over 4,500 athletes from 163 countries competing in 539 events across 22 sports, this is an enormous event full of passion, drama, and determination. And from August 24 to September 5, it will take centre stage in global athletics. Here's what the showcase is about and what to look out for.
The peak of parasports
The Paralympics are an international parasport competition. Parasports are athletic events that are played by people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Depending on the nature of a person's disability, each athlete competes in a certain classification (these are categories that are defined by the International Paralympic Committee, or IPC).
Of the 22 sports at the Tokyo Paralympics, many are based very directly on able-bodied sports, such as wheelchair tennis, powerlifting, swimming, or the paratriathlon.
But there are other sports that were specifically created with certain disabilities in mind. These include goalball, where teams of athletes with visual impairments use their hearing to locate a ball with a bell inside and try to score by throwing it into their opponent's net.
In all cases, the sports showcase the skills and strengths of all of these athletes. Training for years to get to this point, the competition at the Paralympics is fierce and fun!
This summer's Canadian Paralympic team includes 128 athletes from nearly every part of the country. 26 of these people have won medals before at previous Paralympics—others have found success in other competitions and are driven to make their mark on the biggest stage.
— Canadian Paralympic Committee (@CDNParalympics) August 8, 2021
While all of these athletes are worth highlighting, there are a few that really demand our attention. Let's get primed for the Tokyo Paralympics by checking them out!
Aurelie Rivard—para swimming
This Quebec sensation is a multiple Canadian and world record holder. She won three gold and a silver at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and is going to be a huge medal threat in Tokyo.
Priscilla Gagné—para judo
In addition to the pressure of competing in her event, Gagné has an additional responsibility—she is Canada's flag bearer! (This is the person who carries their country's flag out during the opening ceremony.) Ranked number two in the world in the 52 kg class in para judo, she will be aiming high in Tokyo.
The Canadian women's goalball team will be some of the first athletes to compete on Day 1 in Tokyo. One of its most important players is Mahon, who plays the sport's centre position. She has excelled at many sports in her life, but has really found a home in goalball. She and her teammates are hoping to build off a bronze medal in the 2019 Parapan Am Games.
Brent Lakatos—para athletics
Brent Lakatos is para athletics superstar—over his career he has competed in both sprint and long distance races. Normally, athletes only specialize in one or the other. For his incredible efforts, he has collected an incredible stash of Paralympic medals: one gold, four silver, and two bronze. He also won three golds at the Toronto Parapan Am Games.
What will he and his many teammates achieve in Tokyo? It's time to find out!