The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were incredible. Check out the defining moments from the Games, and find out how we’re celebrating the achievements of ParalympicsGB
By Virgin TV Edit
We’ve seen how much you’ve all backed ParalympicsGB and made some noise for our athletes 6,000 miles away with #WeAreHere. While they competed in empty stadiums, you shouted about every medal moment, you stopped and listened to every heartfelt interview and you sent them messages to get them through.
As ParalympicsGB chef de mission Penny Briscoe said, Great Britain’s team have “rewritten the history books” after finishing second in the medals table. Twelve thrilling days of competition in Tokyo led to an astonishing medal haul: 41 gold, 38 silver, 45 bronze – a total of 124 medals. ParalympicsGB won medals in 18 of the 19 sports they entered, a new team record.
To celebrate their achievements, Virgin Media will be turning selected broadband cabinets gold in six key locations across the UK. The first to be unveiled was in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympics, as we presented the gold cabinets to our returning ParalympicsGB athletes. We also teamed up with a local school where the children had a PE class hosted by the Gold medallists themselves.
Watch what happened in the video below...
It has been a truly incredible Games with legends cementing their place in history, veterans bowing out on the world’s biggest stage and some new faces emerging that will form the next generation of Paralympic heroes. Here are just a few of the most memorable moments from Tokyo 2020…
Ellie Robinson’s post-race interview
Simply competing at Tokyo 2020 is a win for any ParalympicsGB athlete. British swimmer Ellie Robinson epitomised that attitude. The defending champion was diagnosed with Perthes Disease in 2012, causing her constant pain in her right hip – a problem exacerbated further by the delay in the Games by a year.
Although she didn’t make the podium in her favoured 50m butterfly, she revealed in an emotional interview, “this is a story of triumph, this is not a story of defeat.” Her resolve to go out on her own terms was one of the stories of these Games.
Sarah Storey claimed her 17th gold medal
There aren’t enough superlatives to quantify Sarah Storey’s sporting successes. Remember, she only switched from the pool (where she claimed five golds) to the velodrome back in 2005. She added nine cycling golds to that total but would need a further three to beat Mike Kenny’s British record of 16 Paralympic golds.
She only needed three races to do it, including a world record in her first race. Unlike several ParalympicsGB legends, there was no retirement message from Storey at these Games. Paris is only three years away, of course…
Kadeena Cox took home two gold medals
Two world records, two golds, as Kadeena Cox dominated the Izu velodrome. Coming into Tokyo 2020 following recent injuries to her Achilles tendon in both legs, she first retained her C4-5 500m time trial title and reclaimed the world record she lost last year, shaving 1.2 seconds off Kate O’Brien’s time.
She followed it up with a win in the C1-5 750m mixed team sprint, alongside Jaco van Gass and Body Cundy. While she missed out on a medal amid torrential rain in the T38 400 metres final, she promised to be back in Paris, telling her Instagram followers: “I am more determined than ever to do the double again.”
Jonnie Peacock’s thrilling 100m race
A sign of the continued growth in Paralympic sport is that Jonnie Peacock ran faster in this year’s T64 final to win bronze than he did five years ago in Rio when he claimed gold. “An advert for Paralympic sport in 11 seconds,” Peacock said afterwards, with the first four men finishing within 0.04 of a second of each other.
It was Germany’s Felix Streng who took gold with a time of 10.76 seconds, with Peacock sharing bronze with his great rival for more than a decade, Johannes Floors. What a race. What a battle. What a finish.
Tully Kearney’s record-breaking gold
As a seven-time world champion, Kearney had to withdraw from the Rio Games due to a significant progression of her generalised dystonia. She was told she’d never swim again. But in her Paralympic debut on day one, she bagged a superb silver, narrowly missing out on the gold in the S5 200m freestyle by 0.12 seconds.
As everyone was quick to note, she actually set a 100m world record pace in the first half of that event. So come the S5 100m freestyle final, she smashed the world record by more than two seconds. One of Tokyo 2020’s greatest performances.
ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair rugby heroics
The most contested Wheelchair Rugby competition since the sport made its debut at the Sydney Games in 2000. Despite being the reigning European champions ParalympicsGB had never won a medal in the sport dubbed “murderball”. But they finally won gold, beating the four best teams in the world on their path to glory.
“To be the first European team to win a Paralympic medal is brilliant, but to win gold is incredible,” said The Last Leg presenter Alex Brooker. You can’t argue with that, can you?
David Smith: the most successful British Boccia player ever
Alongside Goalball, Boccia is one of the only two sports that do not have an Olympic equivalent. But as the Games progressed, we fell in love with Boccia through the brilliance of David Smith. Even though he went 2-0 down in his BC1 individual final, he powered back to win 4-2 and claim the gold medal.
It was a thrilling win as he retained his title, and a moment that overwhelmed the 32-year-old – and frankly everyone who watched it. Now the most successful GB Boccia player of all time, he carried the GB flag during the closing ceremony.
Victory for ParalympicsGB’s Para-equestrian team
Like their Olympic counterparts, the Para-equestrian team continued to dominate the sport, which first debuted at these Games in 1996. The team was led by Lee Pearson who won two gold medals from three events, taking his impressive Paralympics haul to 14 golds. But for all the success, it was far from plain sailing.
Pearson’s horse had never competed at a major international competition, eight-time champion Sophie Christiansen was ruled out after her horse picked up an injury and Sophie Wells’ first-choice horse was also replaced. Incredible.
Reece Dunn became ParalympicsGB’s most decorated athlete in Tokyo 2020
Nobody won more medals for ParalympicsGB than Reece Dunn during these Games as he controlled the pool. Three golds (SM14 200m individual medley; mixed s14 – 4x100m freestyle relay; S14 200m freestyle), one silver (S14 100m butterfly) and one bronze (S14 100m backstroke).
It was a dazzling performance from a man who only first competed in Paralympic sport back in 2019. Swimming presenter Sophie Morgan said it showcased “the potential of athletes with invisible disabilities.”
Ellie Simmonds announces Paralympic retirement
One of the figureheads from London 2012, swimmer Ellie Simmonds has won the lot; eight Paralympic medals, including five golds across three Games – the first of which at age 13, the youngest British competitor at the 2008 Beijing Games. But it’s her impact on Paralympic sport that has been even greater than just medals.
“I am leaving it at the right time. I love it. I’ve had a wonderful competition and I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said. Maisie Summers-Newton, Tully Kearney and many, many ParalympicsGB athletes were inspired to take part because of Ellie Simmonds, and now they too will inspire the next generation.
Thank you, Ellie.
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