The 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo wrapped up on September 5th after two weeks of inspiring events, impressive athletic feats and unforgettable milestone moments. Athletes from all countries showcased their strength, talent and resilience throughout the 2021 Paralympics.
Running from August 24th to September 5th, the 2021 Paralympics were full of incredible moments — here are a few of the highlights to take away from the event.
5 Incredible Moments From the 2021 Paralympics
1. Two Athletes From Afghanistan Competed in the 2021 Paralympics
After the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced that athletes from Afghanistan wouldn’t be able to compete in the Paralympic Games due to the Taliban taking over the country, several governments and agencies across the globe came together to make their dream happen. The athletes, Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli, arrived in Tokyo via Paris in time for the Games. Rasouli competed in the 400m T47, while Khudadadi, the first woman to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics since 2004, competed in women’s taekwondo.
2. Brent Lakatos Carried Canada’s Flag for the Games’ Closing Ceremony
Canadian wheelchair racer Brent Lakatos was honored with the task of acting as Canada’s flag-bearer to close out the 2020 Paralympic Games. This year marked the fifth Paralympic Games Lakatos has participated in, but the first in which he’s served as a flag-bearer. Winning four silver medals at this year’s Games, Lakatos is now the proud owner of 11 Paralympic medals in total.
3. A Record Number of LGBTQ Athletes Participated in the 2021 Paralympics
In this year’s Paralympic Games, at least 28 of the athletes who participated identify as LGBTQ, which is more than double the amount that participated in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. This echoes this year’s Tokyo Olympics, which also saw a record number of LGBTQ athletes participate in the Games (185, to be exact). There’s no doubt this signifies a positive step forward in creating a more inclusive sports world. In 2021, Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay, and Washington Spirit soccer player Kumi Yokoyama came out as trans.
4. A Paralympic Runner Got Engaged After Crossing the Finish Line
After crossing the finish line in the women’s 200m qualifying heat, Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo, a visually impaired runner from Cape Verde, was presented with a different kind of reward. Her guide, Manuel Antonio Vaz da Vega, got down on one knee to propose while the cameras were rolling. Semedo, of course, said yes.
5. Dame Sarah Storey Became the Most Decorated British Paralympian of All Time
Cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, who earned the title of Dame after being appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2013, became the most successful British Paralympian of all time at this year’s Games. The cyclist, whose left hand didn’t develop fully in the womb, won her 17th gold medal in Tokyo, making history for Great Britain.
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