Tokyo Closes ‘Historic’ Paralympics With Colourful Ceremony

Performers dance during the closing ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on September 5, 2021. Philip FONG / AFP

 

Tokyo bid a colourful farewell to the paralympics on Sunday after 12 days of stereotype-defying, record-shattering performances despite a year-long pandemic delay.

International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons declared the Games closed on a cool night in the Olympic Stadium, saying they had “not just been historic, they’ve been fantastic”.

It was a games like no other, postponed a year because of the pandemic and dogged by difficulties and low public support in the build-up.

But the action did not disappoint when it got underway, with a record 86 teams winning medals and 62 claiming at least one gold.

Parsons said the Games had “opened the door”, and it was “time for us all to play our part to break down the barriers”.

“During our carnival of sport, we have celebrated difference, exhibited the best of humanity and shown unity in diversity,” he said.

The closing ceremony, with fans locked out over virus fears but with roughly 2,000 athletes and officials in attendance, took “harmonious cacophony” as its theme.

It featured a riot of neon-clad breakdancers, unicycling butterflies and strutting stilt-walkers, using materials recycled from the Olympic opening ceremony for its vivid props.

Among the athletes carrying their nations’ flags were Afghanistan’s Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi, who arrived in Tokyo with the Games already in progress after being evacuated from Taliban-controlled Kabul.

The pair, wearing red and green team tracksuits, handed the flag over to a volunteer before joining other athletes in helping to decorate a replica of Tokyo’s Skytree tower.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike handed the Paralympic flag over to Parsons, who passed it on to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, representing the 2024 hosts.

Parsons then announced the end of the Games, bringing the curtain down after 539 gold medals across 22 sports, contested almost entirely behind closed doors because of the virus.

“I don’t want to do this, but the time has come for me to declare the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games closed,” he said.

China finished on top of the medal table with 207, including 96 golds, followed by Britain, the United States and the Russian team.

Charismatic Figures

Sarah Storey

 

Highlights included cycling legend Sarah Storey becoming Britain’s most successful Paralympian with her 17th gold medal, 29 years after her first.

Charismatic figures like Italian wheelchair fencer Beatrice “Bebe” Vio and German long jumper Markus Rehm wowed TV audiences.

 

Beatrice “Bebe” Vio

 

And Japanese wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda delighted the home crowd on the penultimate day by claiming one of his country’s 13 gold medals.

Shingo Kunieda

 

There were also impressive performances from Britain’s wheelchair rugby team, who won their first-ever gold, while badminton and taekwondo made their Paralympic debuts.

The Games featured 163 delegations — one fewer than the London 2012 record, despite several teams withdrawing because of pandemic difficulties.

The final day’s action began with the early morning marathon events, with Swiss wheelchair master Marcel Hug defending his T54 crown.

“Silver bullet” Hug opened up an early gap on the field, and moved away from silver medallist Zhang Yong over the last two uphill kilometres.

“I don’t know how to feel. I’m just tired. Empty,” said Hug, who won the sixth Paralympic gold of his career in a time of 1hr 24min 2sec.

In the women’s T54 marathon, Australian Madison de Rozario clung on to finish ahead of Swiss great Manuela Schaer, winning the gold by just one second.

“That was the longest 500 metres of my life,” de Rozario told reporters after finishing in a Paralympic record of 1:38.11.

“That finish line couldn’t have come quick enough.”

Organisers had urged local residents to stay home and watch the action on TV, but sweet shop owner Atsushi Nishimura told AFP in Tokyo’s Asakusa district that he was glad he saw it live.

“We could have enjoyed the Olympics and Paralympics differently if they weren’t during a pandemic, but I think it was good for us that we could host the events,” he said

Paralympics: Athlete Gets Surprise Proposal After Race

 

In the soggy Olympic Stadium on Thursday, Cape Verde’s Keula Semedo failed to qualify for the women’s T11 200m semifinals — but there was a surprise consolation.

After the race, her guide runner Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga got down on one knee and proposed.

Video of the special moment showed both athletes beaming as Semedo accepted.

Vaz de Veiga revealed afterwards that he’d been planning the proposal since his bride-to-be was selected for the Cape Verde squad in July.

“I thought this was the best occasion and the best place to do it,” he said.

And Semedo said she had been considering retiring, but the proposal made her rethink.

“Now I have an additional motivation to carry on after the games, always with him by my side.”

 

Guide runner, Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga proposing to Keula Semedo.

 

Tokyo bid a colourful farewell to the paralympics on Sunday after 12 days of stereotype-defying, record-shattering performances despite a year-long pandemic delay.

International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons declared the Games closed on a cool night in the Olympic Stadium, saying they had “not just been historic, they’ve been fantastic”.

It was a games like no other, postponed a year because of the pandemic and dogged by difficulties and low public support in the build-up.

But the action did not disappoint when it got underway, with a record 86 teams winning medals and 62 claiming at least one gold.

Tokyo Paralympics: Oluwafemiayo Wins Third Gold For Nigeria

The Nigerian attributes her win to the “power of God”. Photo: Paralympics.

 

Nigeria’s medal haul at the Tokyo Paralympics on Monday increased to five  – all from powerlifting – after Folashade Oluwafemiayo claimed gold in the women’s 86kg category. 

The 32-year-old becomes the third Nigerian athlete to win gold in the competition, following in the footsteps of Tijani Latifat and Bose Omolayo. 

She also set a new Paralympics record after she lifted 152kg in the Japanese capital, breaking the former world record (151kg) she set on March 28 in Manchester.

In Tokyo, China’s Zheng Feifei took the silver medal with a 139kg lift, as Sugden Loiuse of Great Britain won bronze following a 131kg lift. 

Nigeria also has two bronze medals from powerlifting.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Powerlifter Latifat Tijani Wins Gold At Tokyo Paralympics

READ ALSO: I Never Settled For Less, Says Ese Brume After Winning Long Jump Bronze In Tokyo

An elated Oluwafemiayo who described her feat at the Games as “great”,  said she owed it to God. 

“I feel very, very great,” Oluwafemiayo told the Paralympics website. “I thank God because it was God all the way; not by my own power, but by the power of God.

“He was giving me grace, and I give Him the admiration for standing right behind me. I’ve been asking for this from God, and He gave it to me.”

 

 

Paralympics: Nigeria’s Omolayo Wins Powerlifting Gold, Sets Games Record

Omolayo had won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

 

Nigeria’s Bose Omolayo has won gold in the women’s 79kg powerlifting event at the Tokyo Paralympics. She lifted 141kg to set a Games record on Sunday. 

Ukraine’s Natalia Oliinyk took silver while Vera Muratova from China settled for bronze in the same event.

The 32-year-old had clinched gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and got another gold at the World Championships in Kazakhstan, three years later. 

READ ALSO: Nigerian Powerlifter Latifat Tijani Wins Gold At Tokyo Paralympics

Omolayo’s gold is Nigeria’s second in the competition. Latifat Tijani won the women’s  45kg powerlifting event after a lift of 107kg with China’s Zhe Cui taking silver.

Team Nigeria, presently 24th on the medal table, has four medals (two gold and two bronze).

Lucy Ejike and Olaitan Ibrahim had earlier claimed a bronze medal each – all from powerlifting.

Lucy Ejike, 21 Others In Medal Chase As Paralympics Games Begin Today

 

The much-awaited paralympic games are set to begin as the opening ceremonies commence today.

Twenty-two athletes will be representing Team Nigeria in the Tokyo 2020 games this year.

It would be recalled that the last edition, at Rio 2016 in Brazil, was the most successful outing for Team Nigeria, which became Africa’s best team and 17th overall on the medal table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

In Tokyo, Team Nigeria Paralympians will participate in four events: Para Powerlifting, Para-Athletics, Para-Table Tennis and Para-Rowing.

The first Paralympics debut for Team Nigeria was far back Barcelona 92, with six athletes who came back with three gold medals.

Nigeria’s largest contingent to the games was in Sydney 2000 with 31 Paralympic Athletes when Team Nigeria returned home with 13 medals.

The team captain, Lucy Ejike (44) who would be featuring in her sixth Paralympics after making her debut at Sydney 2000, has promised that the contingent would surpass the record at Rio 2016.

Ejike won a medal in each of the games she has been in, winning gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2016 and silver medals in 2000 and 2012.

The 22 athletes on the team are:

Flora Ugwunwa – Athletics – F
Iyiazi Njideka. – Athletics – F
Lauritta Onye. – Athletics – F
Nwaozu Chituru – Athletics – F
Galadima Suwaibidu – Athletics – M
Tijani Latifat. – Powerlifting – F
Ejike Lucy. – Powerlifting – F
Ibrahim Mujinat – Powerlifting – F
Omolayo Bose. – Powerlifting – F
Obiji Lovelyn. – Powerlifting – F
Oluwafemiayo Folashade -Powerlifting- F
Okpala Pauline – Powerlifting – F
Ibrahim Dauda – Powerlifting – M
Yakubu Adesokan – Powerlifting – M
Innocent Nnamdi – Powerlifting – M
Ijeoma Kingsley – Rowing – M
Fairh Obazuaye – Table Tennis – F
Tajudeen Agunbiade – Table Tennis – M
Olufemi Alabi Olabiyi – Table Tennis – M
Ahmed Koleosho – Table Tennis – M
Ogunkunle Isau – Table Tennis – M
Farinoye Victor – Table Tennis – M

Team Nigeria Paralympians Promise Medal Haul In Tokyo

A man stands next to the Olympic rings at dusk in Yokohama on July 2, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG/ AFP)

 

With less than a week to the commencement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Team Nigeria athletes have assured supporters of an impressive outing in Tokyo.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday In Abuja, the Paralympics Captain, Lucy Ejike said, “we have been training seriously to make sure we meet up with the standard we set at previous games. Everything is going on well. We are confident we will bring glory to Nigeria. We have world records, so we hope to maintain the records and create new ones”.

Speaking in a similar vein, Para Powerlifter, Nnamdi Innocent, expressed appreciation to the Sports Minister for motivating the team.

“We are grateful to the Minister for his support and encouragement, what he did for us during the lockdown will motivate us to excel in Tokyo. We have many world records and our target is to go there and make Nigeria proud,” he said.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics games will be Nigeria’s 8th consecutive appearance since her maiden appearance at Barcelona 1992.

Nigeria had her most successful outing at Rio 2016, finishing as Africa’s best team and 17th overall in the world on the medals table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Nigeria will participate in four events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics viz; Powerlifting, Para-Athletics, Para-Table Tennis and Para-Rowing.

The team is expected to depart for Japan this week.

Bobsleigh Removed From 2026 Paralympic Winter Games Programme

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) logo.

 

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board has finalised the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games sports programme and decided not to include the sport of Para bobsleigh.

The Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games is scheduled to take place between 6-15 March 2026.

In December 2020, the IPC announced that the five sports of Para alpine skiing, Para ice hockey, Para Nordic skiing, Para snowboard and wheelchair curling have been confirmed for 2026 but that a decision on Para bobsleigh would be deferred until early 2021 pending clarification in several areas.

After clarifying these matters, the IPC Board decided not to include Para bobsleigh due to the sport not meeting the minimum criteria for the number of nations and regions regularly participating in the sport.

According to data provided by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) to the IPC, the sport was widely and regularly practised in 10 countries and three IPC regions over the 2016/17-2019/20 seasons.

Under the IPC Handbook, for the Paralympic Winter Games, an individual sport must be widely and regularly practised at the performance level in a minimum of 12 countries and three IPC regions over the designated four-year period.

IPC President, Andrew Parsons said: “The IPC Governing Board decided not to include Para bobsleigh in the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games after the sport fell short of the minimum criteria required in terms of global participation over the last four seasons.

“In our review of documentation provided by IBSF, 10 countries can be considered as widely and regularly practising the sport over the last four seasons. This is two short of the minimum criteria for inclusion in the Paralympic Winter Games.

“I know this will be understandably disappointing news to the Para bobsleigh community. However, the sport should be encouraged that if it can maintain the participation levels it had during the 2019/2020 season when 16 nations took part in performance competitions, it will be in a strong position for inclusion in the 2030 edition of the Games,” he concluded.

Paralympians Dominate 2nd Para Table Tennis Open In Lagos

File photo

 

Six para table tennis players who have booked their places at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics Games showed their quality to emerge champions at the 2nd edition of the Valuejet Para Table Tennis Open at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

From the experienced Paralympians like Tajudeen Agunbiade, Olufemi Ajayi, and Ahmed Koleosho to debutants Isau Ogunkunle, Faith Obazuaye and Victor Farinloye, nobody could match their quality and experience or stop them from clinching the titles in their various classes.

Sydney 2000 Paralympics Games gold medalists, Agunbiade and Alabi dominated class 10 and nine, beating all their opponents to emerge victoriously.

Unlike Agunbiade and Alabi that had to wait the final day to know their fate, Ogunkunle, Obazuaye, Farinloye, and Koleosho were crowned champions in class four, 10, seven, and three a day earlier.

200 players featured in the tournament, some of them were making their debut in the national competition which has an objective of supporting special athletes and developing para table tennis in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: FIFA Lodges Criminal Complaint Against Blatter Over Museum

The three-day championship was organised by Sunday Odebode Foundation in collaboration with the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) with support from the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC).

Faith Obazuaye, a silver medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, the tournament has boosted her confidence heading to Tokyo especially coming at a time they are all in the national camp for Tokyo 2021.

“I am so happy that I could compete this year considering what the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the whole world. We could not compete internationally while locally we have not been able to compete. I am happy that the sponsor of this tournament kept faith to bankroll again this year and allowed more players within the country to compete. I am so happy that I am eagerly looking forward to Tokyo 2021 in Japan,” she said.

The Technical Director of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Adesoji Tayo lauded the sponsors for deciding to support the tournament this year amidst the pandemic and urged more corporate bodies to support the para-athletes and develop the sport in the country.

North Korean Athletes Arrive South For Paralympics

 

 

FILE PHOTO (L-R) Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, China’s Liu Jiayu, USA’s Lindsey Vonn, North Korea’s Kim Ju Sik, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and South Korea’s Yun Sungbin.
Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

 

North Korean athletes and delegates arrived in the South Wednesday to take part in the Winter Paralympics, as part of an Olympics-driven detente between the two neighbours.

Two competitors — both of them taking part in cross-country skiing — along with four observer athletes and 18 officials crossed the land border north of Seoul before heading for the venues.

Their journey came a day after Seoul announced plans to hold a historic summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in — the latest fruit of their Olympics-fuelled diplomacy.

Moon sought to use the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Games to try to broker dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in a bid to ease the nuclear standoff between them.

The North mounted a charm offensive by sending hundreds of cheerleaders and Kim’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Games, during which athletes from the two Koreas marched together under a neutral “unification flag”.

Seoul responded by sending Moon’s special envoys — including his spy chief — to Pyongyang this week, where leader Kim told them he was willing to discuss denuclearisation with the US.

The North Korean athletes — Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol — may march with their counterparts from the South during Friday’s opening ceremony for the Paralympics, which run until March 18.

The pair made their international debuts in a tournament in January in Oberried, Germany.

It is the first time the North, which has often faced criticism for its cruel treatment of disabled people, has taken part in the Winter Paralympics.

Pyongyang had previously sent athletes to the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 edition of the games in Rio.

Craig Spence, a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said the athletes had been given “bipartite” slots for the games, meaning they had not been able to meet the full qualification criteria.

“They have bipartite invitations from us due to their circumstances. They have not been travelling around the world and have not been able to take part in all the qualifying events,” he told AFP.

AFP

Russian To Learn 2018 Paralympic Fate In January – IPC

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Wednesday maintained Russia’s doping suspension with a decision on their participation in the 2018 Paralympics to be made in January.

In a statement the IPC said they had extended the ban as the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) had not made sufficient progress to justify their reinstatement.

““The RPC is making headway with the IPC on three of the five remaining reinstatement criteria.

“However sadly, and much to our growing disappointment and frustration, there is a lack of progress regarding an official response from the Russian authorities specifically and adequately addressing the McLaren findings and evidence.”

Russia were suspended by the IPC in August 2016 following revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping uncovered in a report by Richard McLaren on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

It also saw the country’s track and field team banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The IPC established a taskforce to monitor and assist the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) in a process of reforming.

Wednesday’s statement added: “The IPC Taskforce still has significant concerns as to the lack of any material progress regarding the provision of an official response from the Russian authorities that adequately addresses the findings made by Professor McLaren.

READ ALSO: Russia Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics Over Doping

“This is a requirement of the WADA roadmap for the reinstatement of RUSADA and a reinstatement criterion for the RPC.”

The statement concluded that it was “keeping the door open” for Russia to compete at Pyeongchang for as long as possible but warned that “January’s deadline is fast approaching”.

The 2018 Paralympics are being staged in South Korea from March 9-18.

AFP

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2016 Shortlist Revealed

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 Shortlist RevealedSixteen contenders have been shortlisted for the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 16 for 2016 were named after a year in which British sportsmen and women had a lot of successes, including at the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio.

They will go into a vote on the night of the live show in Birmingham on Sunday, December 18.

Jamie Vardy makes the cut after helping guide Leicester City to the biggest title upset in Premier League history while Bale features for winning his second Champions League title with Real Madrid in May and being the standout star in Wales’ Euro 2016 campaign in the summer.

However, Andy Murray is heavy favourite to win the award, having ended the year as No.1 in the world rankings – a first for any British singles player in history.

The Scot secured victory at Wimbledon for the second time in his career, while he also won gold at the Olympics.

A host of Olympic and Paralympic athletes are on the shortlist.

The nominees are:

Nicola Adams – Boxing, Gareth Bale – Football, Alistair Brownlee – Triathlon, Sophie Christiansen – Equestrian, Kadeena Cox – Athletics/Cycling, Mo Farah – Athletics, Jason Kenny – Cycling, Laura Kenny – Cycling.

Andy Murray – Tennis, Adam Peaty – Swimming, Kate Richardson-Walsh – Hockey, Nick Skelton – Equestrian, Dame Sarah Storey – Cycling, Jamie Vardy – Football, Max Whitlock – Gymnastics, Danny Willett – Golf.

Obiano Rewards Two Paralympic Athletes In Anambra

Obiano, Okorocha, Imo, Paralympic Athletes, Paralympic, Rochas Okorocha, Agriculture, House, Nigeria, ParalympicThe Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, says he has developed well-articulated programmes for the improvement and welfare of persons living with disabilities both in sports, education and in social integration.

The Governor was speaking during the recognition and presentation of gifts to two victorious Anambra athletes who won medals at the just concluded Paralympics Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

The gold medalist in Javelin, Ifeyinwa Ugwumba, received a reward of 1 million Naira in addition to automatic employment in Anambra State Civil Service and similarly, the bronze medalist Njideka Iyiazi, received 1 million Naira and immediate employment into the State Civil Service.

The Governor also rewarded the two coaches that trained the athletes with half a million Naira each.

The Special Assistant to the Governor on Physically Challenged Persons, Mr Chucks Ezewuzie, said that the Governor would continue to raise the self-esteem of persons living with disability.

The State Commissioner for Youths, Entrepreneurship and Sports Development, Mrs Uju Nwogu, also added that the Governor’s commitment has ensured that excellence has been recorded in sports since he took office.

For them it is the beginning of sports revolution in the state as many who have left will come back and join in uplifting sports in the state.