[Tokyo Paralympics] 8 players to watch from the BBC, Kunieda and others in wheelchair tennis

[Tokyo Paralympics] 8 players to watch from the BBC, Kunieda and others in wheelchair tennis

Shingo Kunieda
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 4, 2021 Japan’s Shingo Kunieda in action during his wheelchair quarter final match against Great Britain’s Gordon Reid REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Tokyo Paralympic Games is 24 days, kicks off. Approximately 4,400 athletes will participate and compete for medals in 539 events in 22 competitions. While some players have already established themselves as international stars, others want to draw attention with their debut in Tokyo. In addition, some athletes will participate in the hope that there will be positive changes for people with disabilities in their own country. BBC Sport focused on eight people who are expected to play an active role in the Tokyo Paralympics.

  1. Marcus Rehm
    (Para-athletics, Germany) Rehm called “Blade Jumper” seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Since its debut in 2011, it has been overwhelmingly strong in the long jump of the prosthesis (formerly T44, now T64). In this tournament as well, it is certain that the title of the Paralympic Games will be won for the third time . At the 2019 World Championships, he won the gold medal by 92 centimeters. He won the European Championship this year by jumping 8 meters 62. This is a record of winning gold medals in the last six Paralympics. In 2005, when Laem was 14, he amputated from his right knee in a wakeboarding accident. Soon, he started athletics. He wanted to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro tournament, but couldn’t prove that he hadn’t gained an advantage with his prosthesis . At the same time as a track and field athlete, he also works as a prosthetist and assists people who have lost their limbs.
  2. Shingo Kunieda
    (Wheelchair Tennis, Japan) Kunieda (37) is No. 1 in the men’s world ranking for wheelchair tennis. Success in local competitions will significantly change the environment surrounding people with disabilities in Japan. He made his debut in the Paralympics at the 2004 Athens Men’s Doubles and won a gold medal. He also won the men’s singles at the 2008 Beijing Games. He won the 2012 London Games in a row, but suffered an elbow injury at the 2016 Rio Games and only won a bronze medal in the doubles. Kunieda was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor at the age of nine. Two years later, he started wheelchair tennis and has grown into an overwhelming presence. Last year, he won the US Open for the seventh time, and won the title of Grand Slam (four major tournaments) 45 times in total. It surpassed the record of Esther Vergeer in the Netherlands. Although he lost to Alfie Hewett (UK) at this year’s French Open and Gordon Reid (same) at Wimbledon, he is still a strong candidate for the medal.
  3. Husna Kukundakuwe
    (Uganda, Paralympic Swimming) Probably Kukundakuwe (14) will not win a medal in Tokyo. But she believes she can play a more important role in promoting the presence of people with disabilities in Uganda. According to her, people with disabilities in Uganda are “not considered normal.” Born without a right forearm, he also has a disability in his left hand. He used to wear long-sleeved clothes even in the summer to hide his disabilities. However, when I met swimming at school, my life changed completely. He practiced alongside non-disabled athletes and became the only Uganda representative to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics. Kukunda Kuwe’s debut was the 2019 World Championships in London. He participated in the 50m and 100m freestyles in the S9 category, finishing 14th and 12th respectively. Currently, he is using his position to promote efforts to support the next generation, who is passionate about it.
  4. Michael Brannigan
    (Para-athletics, USA) The epidemic of the new coronavirus affected all athletes .. However, it caused greater difficulty for athletes with intellectual disabilities, such as Branigan (24). Diagnosed with autism as a child, Branigan found a place and purpose for his passion for running. At the Rio Games, he won the gold medal at 1500 meters in the T20 category. However, last year, suddenly, I couldn’t run because of the pandemic of the new virus. According to her mother, Eddie, Branigan was shocked because she didn’t know what was happening. This year, with coach Sonia Robinson, she resumed training for the Tokyo tournament. Alexander Rabotniči (Russia), who won the 2019 World Championship, is a strong rival, but Branigan has no intention of giving up without fighting.
  5. Kate O’Brien
    (Para Bicycle, Canada) O’Brien (33), who changed from bobsleigh to cycling and participated in the Olympics, lived a life unrelated to the Paralympic Games. However, in the summer of 2017, he was hit by a tire rupture accident while practicing. She broke when she collided with a motorcycle as a pacemaker, and her brain was severely damaged, leaving her unconscious. He was told that he would never walk again and would not be able to ride a bicycle or speak well. With the dream of the Olympics, she first reluctantly entered the world of para-bicycles. She was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2018, but her sports journey continues. In 2020, he participated in a major para-bicycle competition for the first time at the World Championships of Bicycle Trucks in Canada. Won a gold medal in a 500-meter time trial in the C4 category. Defeated champion Kadeena Cox (UK) and set a new world record. Izu Bedrodome is also aiming to steal the title from Cox.
  6. Birgit Skullstein
    (Norway, Paraboat) Skullstein is preparing for the busiest year of his career. The current champion of the women’s single scull, she first participated in the Tokyo Paralympics. After that, he aims to participate in cross-country skiing at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing next March. She got a lot of attention last fall when she appeared on a Norwegian television dance show as her first wheelchair dancer. Dancing with his partner Philip Rabe, he gave the show a perfect score for the first time. Skullstein fell from his waist at the age of 16 in 2010. The epidural injection injured the spinal cord during the treatment of a foot injury. He won the gold medal at the European Championship in April this year and is doing well. The Tokyo Paralympic gold medal may be more valuable than a dance trophy.
  7. Anastasia Pagonis
    (Para Swimming, USA) Pagonis (17), a star swimmer and social media influencer, is known by the name “Tas”. She loved swimming, but began to lose sight at the age of 11. He was completely blind at the age of 14 due to the immune system attacking the retina and genetic causes. Pagonis’s life was greatly affected and she suffered from depression, anxiety and mental health. There was a time when I was away from the pool. However, he resumed swimming. I practiced a completely different swimming style with my coach Mark Danin. Because of that, he set a world record in the 400-meter freestyle and decided to participate in the Tokyo Paralympics. Upon exiting the pool, Pagonis is active on social media. He wants to change his perspective on the visually impaired, demonstrating how visually impaired people make up and showing their love for fashion.
  8. Michael Roeger
    (Australia, Para-athletics) Roeger (33) from Canberra, Australia, is aiming for “fourth honesty” at the Tokyo Paralympics. I was born with no tip on my right arm. He grew up enjoying Australian football, basketball, cricket and table tennis and started athletics in high school. Became a star player on a cross-country team. Debuted at the Paralympics at the Beijing Games. 1 He was 8th at 500 meters and 11th at 5000 meters. At the London 2012 Games, I had a nightmare of internal bleeding on the eve of the 800-meter final. I stood at the start line, but I couldn’t run to the end, and I was worried that my life as a player might be over. He made up for the Rio tournament and won the bronze medal at 1500 meters in the T46 category. However, the 2017 World Championships in London missed out due to injury. Logger changed the event to a marathon. In 2019, he won the world championship title in London with great success. In April of this year, he broke the world record for the T46 category for the fourth time in a row at the Australian Paralympic Qualifying Marathon in Sydney. Four months after recovering from the injury, he set his best record by 40 seconds. (English article Eight global athletes to watch at Tokyo Paralympics)
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