It was definitely worth the wait, as records tumbled, new talents emerged and sporting legends were reaffirmed at the Tokyo Games.
Here is a selection of our favourite moments…
Ali Jawad – Britain’s ‘strongest’ man
Jawad finished sixth in the 59kg powerlifting category. While not the strongest in the tournament Jawad showed that ‘strength’ isn’t just physical, it’s mental and emotional as well. The powerlifter has effectively self-isolated for the last three years managing complications of Crohn’s disease. He said that qualifying for Tokyo was his ‘gold medal’.
Ellie Robinson – Triumph, not defeat
Robinson confessed that Perthes’ disease meant that “time was up” for her hip and further ambitions in the pool. After finishing fifth in the S6 50m butterfly, her tearful interview left viewers heartbroken but with a renewed respect for Paralympians as she said that rather than giving up the sport sooner: “I ended on my own terms. I went out the way I wanted to.”
Neil and Lora Fachie – Golden couple
Neil won gold and broke the World Record in the men’s B 1,000m time trial before minutes later his wife, Lora, did exactly the same thing in the women’s B 3,000m individual pursuit.
Hannah Cockroft – Three in a row
Cockroft has now claimed three T34 100m gold medals in three Games – her latest in a new World Record. She said what most of the athletes have been feeling: “There has been so much pressure and insecurity around this whole Games. It was on, it was off; family can come, family can’t come. We’ve just been waiting, not knowing what to expect. To get out there, putthat time down, I can’t believe it. I did not think I was capable of that time.”
Dame Sarah Storey – Hi-Storey maker
Storey won the first gold for ParalympicsGB at Tokyo 2020 in the C5 3,000m individual pursuit which proved to be an instant inspiration to the other British athletes. She later followed up with her 16th Paralympic medal, in the C5 time trial and equalling swimmer Mike Kenny as the most successful British Paralympian ever, before going one better with her third of the Games in the C4-5 road race. All of this 29 years after her first Paralympic gold.
Kylie Grimes – Iron lady
Kylie Grimes became the only woman to win gold in mixed gender wheelchair rugby as ParalympicsGB claimed their first gold in the sport. Though wheelchair rugby is a mixed gender sport, no woman had been on a gold medal winning team before. Only four of the eight teams competing at Tokyo had a woman in their squad.
Ben Watson – Zero to hero
Watson watched the 2016 Paralympics on TV- weighing 92kg and “drinking a lot of beer and partying, basically.” Underlining the transformational nature of sport, he said: “I did a Talent ID (programme) in 2016 and I’ve gone from there really.” He went on to take C1-3 time trial gold.
Tully Kearney – Fights back
Kearney turned the tables on Li Zhang in the 100m freestyle S5 having come second to her in the 200m freestyle S5 race by a hair’s breadth.
David Smith – Hair highlights
Smith had to dig deep in the final of the BC1 boccia tournament to retain his Paralympic title, coming back from two points down to win against Malaysia’s Chew Wei Lun 4-2. The red and blue hairdo was the best of the Games.
Sophie Hahn – Undefeatable
Hahn Successfully defended her T38 100m title after a tough few years including controversy surrounding her classification. Hahn is the definition of focus – having won every major final for seven years, even though this time it was very close.
Thomas Young – Surprise package
Was anyone more surprised than Thomas Young himself when he broke the 11 second barrier to clinch gold in the T38 100m?
Christopher Skelley – Tea’s up!
After winning ParalympicsGB’s first judo gold (100kg) he thanked his girlfriend live on air before suggesting she “get the pork pies in the fridge… and get the kettle on as well because I’m dying for a brew!” “Love you too darlin!” she replied.
Jody Cundy – A true sportsman
Jody Cundy became the first man in ParalympicsGB’s history to win a medal at seven Games after he secured a silver in the C4-5 1,000m time trial. Last rider out, Alfonso Cabello Llamas, of Spain edged him out of top spot with a new World Record. In an act of supreme sportsmanship, Cundy presented Cabello Llamas with the gold medal.
Perhaps it was karma that later enabled him to claim a gold for his team after a fighting last lap when he overtook a Chinese cyclist by a nose at the line during the mixed C1-5 750m team sprint. China are current world champions but were beaten by the dream team: Kadeena Cox, Jody Cundy and Jaco van Gass.
Phoebe Paterson Pine – Long shot
Claimed gold in the women’s individual compound bow archery after entering the Games as a complete outsider, ranked 15 in the world.
Jonnie Peacock – Double vision
The 2016 champion had to settle for a bronze in the 100m T64 – as did German Johannes Floors, in the same race! The two could not be separated by the stopwatch – behind winner, Felix Streng and second placed Sherman Isidro Guity Guity.
Will Bayley – Passion
Bayley always provides the Paralympic passion. He was given a yellow card for saluting his semi final win on day four by kicking down the court surrounds to celebrate with his teammates.
Dan Greaves – Joy of six
Winning a bronze in the F44 discus, Greaves became the first British Paralympian to win a medal in athletics at six successive Paralympic Games.
ParalympicsGB – Universal triumph
The universal relay serves to remind us how broad the success of ParalympicsGB has been. The team, consisting of Nathan Maguire, Ali Smith, Jonnie Peacock and Libby Clegg were upgraded to the silver after China were disqualified.
Reece Dunn – Heavy metal
Swimmer Dunn will need an extra box at airport security. He’s only bringing home three golds, a silver and a bronze! That’s more medals than any other British athlete from the Tokyo Games.
Aled Davies – Daddy’s coming home
Davies gave a special mention for his daughter after winning the F63 shot put, saying: “Daddy did it and he’s bringing home a nice little necklace for you”.
It wasn’t just ParalympicsGB that gave the Games great moments. Athletes from further afield made Tokyo one to remember…
Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo and Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga – Hand in hand
Cape Verde’s visually impaired sprinter, Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo got a ring instead of a medal after finishing fourth in the women’s 200m T11 heat. Her running guide Manual Antonio Vaz da Veiga proposed having just crossed the line.
Hossain Rasouli – Afghan athlete
Hossain Rasouli was one of two Afghan athletes to be safely evacuated from the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. He arrived in Tokyo too late to compete in his favoured 100m event and finished last in the T47 long jump final – but that’s hardly the point.
Tiago Paraná – Goal of the Games
The Brazilian took the ball from his own half, beat four players and dispatched it into the bottom left corner of the goal during a group match of the 5-a-side football, beating Japan 4-0.
While Libby Clegg has announced her retirement from sport, it could also be the last Paralympics for legends, Jonnie Peacock, Richard Whitehead, David Weir and Ellie Simmonds, who have done so much for parasport over the years. Sadly, her deteriorating condition has forced swimmer, Ellie Robinson to consider her future, while tennis player Alfie Hewett, who also has Perthes’ disease may be reclassified, amounting to exile from certain sporting events.
ParalympicGB Images – © imagecomms