By Jady Ojeda
The Summer Paralympics opening ceremony took place in Rio de Janero, Brazil on Sept. 7. During the 11-day event, approximately 4,300 athletes represented over 161 countries.
Although the athletes who participated have physical disabilities, such as impaired muscle power or impaired vision, they pushed towards their goal of representing their country with honor fighting for the 2,347 medals that were awarded among 23 traditional sports, such as track and field and swimming, as well as modtified sports, such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
The Paralympics give athletes a chance to make themselves, as well as their country proud. It allows them to prove what they are capable of accomplishing as they their battle their impairment. Although they may be disabled, Paralympic athletes break their own boundaries.
As of Sept. 11, the United States stood at fourth place with 39 medals, with China in first with 92. Four Paralympians also ended up beating the record of athletes from the Olympics in the 1500 meters race. The group was led by Abdellatif Baka from Algeria and Yeltsin Jacques from Brazil.
Grace Norman was the first American to take gold in the paratriathlon before also earning a bronze medal in the 400m running event the following Monday.
“Going in three years ago I bet winning gold didn’t even cross my mind,” Norman told her teammate Melissa Stockwell. “I believed in myself [that] I could take gold, and so to get here and take it for the US, first in history – I’m beyond excited,” stated Norman.
On Sept.17, Iranian para-cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad passed away due to a cardiac arrest caused by a crash during a mountainous C4-5 road race.
The Paralympic Games ended on Sept. 18 and included an honorary tribute for Golbarnezhad.
According to PBS, the Paralympics were originally created to highlight war veterans and civilians who were injured during World War 2. The first games with this intention were held in London in 1948.
In 1960, the first Paralympics that was not solely for war veterans took place in Rome.
This athletic event was run with the help of specialized coaches, volunteers, and helpful donations.
“Volunteers have that spirit of always being ready to help and do their best,” stated 11-time Brazilian Paralympic Gold Medalist Daniel Diaz, “and those at the Rio 2016 Games will be heroes to many.”