Rio Paralympics Astonish With New Records


The 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, concluded on Sept. 18. The 15th Summer Paralympic Games saw over 4,000 athletes from 159 different countries competing in what commentators titled as the most well-attended Paralympics.

The event, which coincieswith therespective Summer and Winter Olympics, features athletes with disabilities competing on an international stage. There are 10 categoriesof phsical and intellectual impairments within the Games.

A total of 1,597 medals were awarded. China placed first in the medal count (239 medals; 107 of them gold), Great Britain placed third (147 medals; 64 gold), and the Ukraine placed third (117 medals; 41 gold). The US came in fourth place with 115 medals; 40 gold.

Two new sports—canoeing and the triathlon—were added to the 22-sport roster program already in place, which included table tennis, equestrian competitions, and wheelchair rugby and volleyball.

As the scandal of the state-sponsored doping program among Russian athletes developed over the summer, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) banned Russian athletes from participating in the Paralympic Games.

Nearly 150 new world records and more than 200 Paralympic records were broken during the Games. Petrucio Ferreira dos Santos, a 19-year-old Brazilian athlete, won gold and set a new record for the men’s 100-meter race for crossing the finish line in 10.57 seconds—a scant second behind Usain Bolt’s new 9.58 record set during the Olympics. Nigeria’s Lucy Ejike broke the women’s heavyweight powerlifting record by hoisting 142 kilograms from a wheelchair. She took home gold.

One death occurred in the Paralympics: Iranian road cyclist Bahman Golbarnejhad crashed while cycling a mountainous stretch of the C4-5 event circuit and died from head injuries and a cardiac arrest en route to the hospital. Paralympic flags were flown at half mast throughout the athletes’ housing compounds, and a moment of commemorative silence was observed during the closing ceremony.

During the closing ceremonies, International Paralympics Committee president Phillip Craven praised the Paralympic athletes’ high level of performance, achievement, and dedication to their sport, saying that the world was “in awe at what you could do and forgot about what they believed you could not. You showed to the world that with a positive attitude the human body, and above all the human heart and mind, knows no limits and absolutely anything is possible.”

Elsa Peterson
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