ParalympicsGB rewrote history in Tokyo with their incredible performance, winning medals in 18 of the 19 sports they entered, which is a new team record.
With 124 medals in total they finished 2nd place in the overall table behind China, with 41 golds, 38 silvers and 45 bronzes. And 56% of the athletes making their debut won a medal. We already can’t wait to see the results from Paris in 3 years time.
We’ve rounded up 5 impressive paralympians, whose determination and will power show that anything is possible when you work hard and put your mind to something.
Sue Bailey, a school teacher from Barnsley, has been to every Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000, but has never been able to secure a medal. However that all changed in Tokyo when she finally succeeded in getting a bronze medal alongside her teammate Megan Shackleton, a fellow northerner from Yorkshire, in Table Tennis.
Sue suffers from Ehlers-danlos syndrome, which causes her joints to dislocate, sometimes up to 100 times a day, and has lived most of her life in a wheelchair. During her matches, she has to snap joints back into place or play with dislocated fingers or wrist. Speaking to the Barnsley Chronicle, Sue expressed that she is ‘in constant pain, but it's about managing to have as good of a life as possible’.
‘ Everyone has lots of disabilities at the paralympics, and has overcome adversity. It’s very difficult living with a disability but hopefully my success and the paralympics in general show other disabled people that there is nothing you can’t do, you just do it in a different way’. She rounded off her interview with a quote that is motivation for everyone, ‘you can achieve anything you want with hard work’.
George Peasgood became the youngest para-triathlon medalist ever at 17 years old in 2013 after winning a bronze medal at the ITU World Championships in London, and now at 25, he is a two time paralympic medalist. When George was 2, he suffered a traumatic injury to his left leg and ankle resulting in various reconstructive surgeries.
Originally he had used cycling and swimming as rehabilitation, but having an athletic family of iron man competitors he followed in their footsteps, and took both to an Paralympic level. Peasgood told BBC Sport he's overwhelmed by how well the games had gone. His bronze in the road cycling event was also the 1000th medal won by ParalympicsGB since national lottery funding started in 1997. Peasgood truly shows us that we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.
The incredible Dame Sarah Storey DBE is truly an inspiration to us all. She won her 17th Gold Paralympic Medal in the Women's C4-C5 road race event, in her 8th Paralympic games. At 43, no British Paralympian has won more medals than her, but she's not stopping at Tokyo. Storey has come a long way from the 10 year old swimmer, who was told at training that she’d started too late and would never be good at anything.
After hard work and resilience, 4 years later she won 6 medals, 2 golds, at her first paralympics in Barcelona. More medals came in Atlanta & Sydney, but after suffering with a recurring ear infection, Storey changed from the pool to the track. Since she started competing in para-cycling, she has never lost a race.
When talking to BBC Sport, Storey said that the next step is attending Paris 2024 so that her youngest Charlie could see his Mum compete. ‘ I feel immensely proud & grateful to have so much support and a great team around me. I don't know whether it’ll sink in when I get home, in a few months, or never at all’.
When BBC Sport spoke to her significant other, he explained how truly resilient she is, ‘she's just amazing [with] how she finds new ways to push her body even more. She’s just able to do that & I dont think many people can do that’.
Owen Miller, a Dunfermline born athlete claimed a shock gold in the T20 1500m, after overtaking the European champion Alexandr Rabotnitskii on the last corner. Tokyo was Miller's paralympic debut, and he had only raced in one world championship previously where he finished 6th. Speaking to BBC Sport, he told of how rigorous and persistent training had been, but he will be more than grateful ever of how much it paid off.
His journey with athletics started when his PE teacher recommended he join a local club, after seeing him race on sports day. And nearly 10 years later, he is a Paralympic Gold Medalist. Being resilient truly does pay off, and Miller is a prime example of this.
Kadeena Cox entered the Paralympics in 2015 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and is the first British Paralympian in 32 years to win medals in 2 different sports when she got gold in the T8 400m and C4-5 Time Trial. Cox was a sprinter from a young age, and her talent consistently shows through the years.
In Tokyo she retained her C4-5 500m Time Trial Para title with a stunning world record ride. She beat the record by 0.411 seconds in a truly stellar performance. Speaking to BBC Sport she expressed that she ‘ executed a near perfect race’.
Not many people can do what Cox does and be world class in not only 1 but 2 sports; however she does show how resilient and tough our bodies are. We really can achieve anything if we have the right mindset and determination.
Paris is only 3 years away, and we can’t wait to see the next successes for ParalympicGB. Thank you for reading and we hope you have a good week! And however you choose to spend it, we know with the right mindset and resilience you’ll smash it.