There are now only 5 days to go until the start of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and I can’t wait to watch some world class sporting competition and cheer on Team GB. Two weeks ago we showed the brilliant Channel 4 trailer – click here to watch it again and to see the signed and audio described versions.
The Tokyo Paralympics is the 16th Paralympic games and runs from the 24th August until the 5th September. The games will feature around 4,350 athletes competing in 539 medal events in 22 sports with the British team comprising 228 athletes competing in 19 sports.
Channel 4 once again has exclusive rights to screen the games and has announced its most ambitious plans ever for coverage. A world class presenting team will feature the largest number of disabled presenters ever seen on UK television (over 70%) and the channel will host over 1300 hours of round the clock coverage on Channel 4, More 4 and a dedicated livestream on its Paralympics microsite. Channel 4 and More 4 will carry live subtitles and the Opening Ceremony will have live signing and live enhanced open AD/commentary simulcast on 4Seven. Most of the content on the Paralympics Microsite will also have subtitles.
So, it looks like I’m not going to be getting much sleep in the next few weeks! If you don’t want to miss an event or want to know when your favourites are on the full schedule can be found here:
And an overview of Channel 4’s extensive coverage can be found here:
Here are some of the Team GB athletes I’ll be keeping an eye out for during the games. I hope everyone has an enjoyable games!
Maisie Summers-Newton (para-swimming)
Maisie was inspired by the London 2012 paralympics and especially Ellie Simmonds. Both swimmers have achondroplasia and Summers-Newton said watching Simmonds race and win inspired her to take up swimming herself. Despite only turning 19 in July, Maisie is already a World and European champion and world record holder for the SM6 200m individual medley. She is also a strong contender for the SB6 100m breaststroke.
Dave Ellis (para-triathlon)
Dave Ellis, who is visually impaired, is already a Paralympian after representing team GB in para-swimming in the 2008 Games in Beijing. He narrowly missed out on selection for London 2012 and subsequently switched to triathlon but was devastated when his category wasn’t included in the Rio games. In 2019 he started working with guide Luke Pollard and the partnership has been successful with titles at European and World level. Ellis is currently ranked 4th in the world and comes into the games in good form having recently won the World Triathlon Para Series event in Leeds.
Jaco Van Gass (para-cycling)
Jaco Van Gass is a former military mam. Whilst serving in the parachute regiment in Afghanistan in 2009 he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. It left him with a collapsed lung and other internal injuries, shrapnel wounds and leg injuries, and he also lost his left arm at the elbow.
Sport played a major part in his rehabilitation, and Jaco went on to be part of a record-breaking team of wounded soldiers who trekked to the North Pole, with Prince Harry joining them for part of the journey. He won gold at the Invictus Games and comes to his first parlympics as a triple world champion on the track. At Tokyo he is competing in 3 track events and 2 road cycling events.
Sophie Wells (para-equestrian)
Sophie has been competing in dressage from the age of 8 and became the first para-rider to compete in a non-disabled championship at the Young Rider Europeans in 2010 and 2011. Born with amniotic band syndrome, a condition that left her with missing fingers and nerve damage to her legs, Wells has been a regular on the British para equestrian team since 2009 and this is her third Olympics. She is aiming to add to her impressive medal tally from London and Rio where she won a total of 2 team golds and 1 gold and 3 silvers in the individual events.
Beth Munro (para-taekwondo)
Beth Munro came to the Paralympics team via a disability sport event in 2019 where the keen netball player was spotted and asked if she wanted to try javelin and taekwondo with the aim of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Paralympics. Taekwondo turned out to be the sport where her talent lay, and she has been training at the GB centre in Manchester since the beginning of this year.
Beth, who was born without a lower left arm, won her first international bout earning her a place at the Tokyo Paralympics. Despite her lack of experience she has certainly shown she can handle the pressure of high level competition!
Thomas Young (para-athletics)
Another athlete making their debut at Tokyo is sprinter Thomas Young. Thomas has neurofibromatosis type 1 – a genetic condition that causes tumours, usually non-cancerous, to grow along nerves and in Young’s case, affects his balance and coordination. Despite only discovering he was eligible for Para-sport at the age of 17, the 21 year old has already made a big impact on the world stage. He won gold in the T38 100m and 200m at the 2018 European championships and silver at the 2019 world championship, missing out on gold by the narrowest of margins. Another athlete going into the games in good form, he retained his European championship earlier this year.
Kare Adenagan (para-athletics)
Tokyo will be Kare’s 2nd Paralympics having won a silver and two bronze medals in Rio when she was just 15. In 2018 she set a new world record for the T34 100m which undoubtedly contributed to her winning the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.