The Tokyo Paralympics is coming to an end and boy, has it been a good one. The summer games have provided some excellent (gold, even) entertainment.
If you’re also mourning the end of a brilliant season, or you’ve missed any of the action, fret not, we’ve rounded up the best of the best moments.
From brilliant sportsmanship, to record-breakers and marriage proposals, these are the clips that got us cheering. We wish it didn’t have to end.
1. Dame Sarah Storey breaking the team GB record
Dame Sarah Storey made history by becoming Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian after claiming the 17th gold of her dazzling career at Tokyo 2020.
Amazingly, the 43-year-old cyclist began her medals haul in 1992, when she won six medals – including two gold – at the Games in Barcelona. At the time, she was a swimmer aged 14.
Storey has now won all 12 bike events entered dating back to her Games debut on two wheels in Beijing in 2008. And the athlete has indicated she isn’t done just yet, revealing she is considering a family bike ride to the Paris Games in 2024. More records to be broken in a few years, we expect.
2. Partners on the track became partners for life
A visually impaired sprinter and her guide made everyone go ‘aww’ when one of them got down on one knee following the 200-meter women’s race.
Runner Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo of Cape Verde finished fourth in her qualifying heat only to find a surprise at the end of it all.
Her guide Manuel Antonio Vaz da Vega grabbed her hand, got down on one knee and asked that all-important question. Semedo, who was born in Portugal but competes for her native Cape Verde, said yes.
And they’re not the only couple who bought some romance to the games. Argentine fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice also received a proposal, at the Olympics in July. Her coach and boyfriend of 17 years, Lucas Saucedo, proposed after she lost to Hungary’s Anna Marton (Maurice also said yes!).
3. Slowing to support a struggling competitor
Australian Paralympian Stuart Jones probably didn’t have the Paralympic success he wanted. His pace was off in the T1-2 road race and then the rain defeated him at the Fuji International Speedway. He also later lost a medal in the finishing straight on Tuesday after dropping a chain.
On Thursday, he finished eighth, leaving him without any medals in the games. But that didn’t dampen his spirits. As he finished the race, he saw a fellow competitor, Toni Mould from South Africa, riding her trike next to him.
The exhausted athlete had trailed behind a full lap, but Jones wasn’t going to let her accept defeat. He slowed his trike, encouraging her along, all-smiles, and urging her to go on and finish the race. The kind of sportsmanship we love to see.
4. Ibrahim Hamadtou amazing table tennis fans
Ibrahim Hamadtou is seriously impressive. After getting in a train accident aged 10, both of his arms were amputated. The Egyptian athlete took up table tennis three years later, using his mouth to hold the paddle. To serve, Hamadtou flicks the ball with his foot.
Hamadtou made his competitive debut in 2004, later winning silver medals in para table tennis at the 2011 and 2013 African Championships and at the 2013 Egypt Open, after which he was named Arab Athlete of the Year.
He competed at Rio 2016 and said partaking in it meant his “dream has come true”. He lost to Spain in the men’s team class 6-7 on the bank holiday. But still, what a champion.
5. Husband and wife success
Husband and wife cyclists Neil Fachie and Lora Fachie both won gold for Team GB – and their joint celebrations were full of love.
The achievement led to the pair being compared to Britain’s other golden couple of cycling – olympians Jason and Laura Kenny. But they welcome the link. “The Kennys are an incredible family so to be even in the same sentence as them is amazing,” Fachie said. “Lora and I have had mixed success over the years. I won in London, she lost out due to a mechanical [failure], she won gold in Rio and I failed there. We thought the moment might not actually happen when we both won gold.”
6. Don’t forget about Afghanistan
Afghanistan is going through turbulent times to say the least and the athletes representing the country were in disarray as to what would happen to their Paralympic future.
After the Taliban seized control of the country and flights were canceled, athletes were initially unable to complete. But during the parade of nations, a volunteer stepped up to represent the country.
Making sure the flag of Afghanistan was at least represented, the volunteer waved it proudly as the crowd clapped on. Since then, Afghan athletes such as Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi were smuggled out of Kabul in dramatic circumstances to compete belatedly.
7. The Paralympic Refugee Team
To our shame, many of us didn’t know there was an Olympic Refugee Team, and then a Paralympic Refugee Team, but we are so glad there is.
The team represented the more than 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses, 12 million of whom live with a disability.
The head of the team was Ileana Rodriguez, a refugee from Cuba who competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games in swimming for the USA. Athletes included Syrian-born Para canoeist Anas Al Khalifa and Abbas Karimi from Afghanistan.
8. The opening ceremony
It might feel like a while ago now, but multiple nations bought the party at the start of the Paralympics.
We saw a dog that stole the show, essential workers honoured, and some Olympic athletes who were unable to compete a few weeks ago due to the pandemic also made an appearance. There was also the DJ from Spain that certainly kept the vibes alive, and we can’t forget those funky hats.
Brilliant people, brilliant games.