No. 9: Injured Nascimento limps to the finish line23.12.2012
With 80,000 fans cheering him on, Brazil’s Yohansson Nascimento insisted on finishing the 100m T46 final, despite a pulled hamstring.
Find out which other stories made it into the Top 50 Paralympic Moments of 2012.
The Brazilian, who had won the 200m T46 Paralympic title just four days prior, fell to the ground about a third of the way through the final.
Despite the dire pain that hit him in his left hamstring, he ushered away the officials who tried to help him.
With the 80,000-strong crowd applauding, he hobbled his way to the finish line in tears, sinking back down to the ground when he clocked in at 1:30.79.
“I lost count of how many times I watched the race again,” Nascimento said. “Despite the pain, I made a good start, and when I see the time when the muscle was broken, my heart tightens.”
It was one of the most poignant moments of the year that showcased the courageousness of athletes we often forget in the thick of an event.
“I wanted to finish with my own legs,” Nascimento said. “It was not out of pride, but wanted to finish alone regardless of injury.
“The medal was very close. I saw all athletes continuing to race and I could not run anymore. Before the race, I felt some discomfort in my leg, but I was sure that I would get through. I thought, I'll complete it even by walking.”
The 25-year-old arguably received more attention for his race than winner Xu Zhao of China.
“The cheering was the same as when an athlete wins a medal,” Nascimento said. “I did not expect this reaction from the public, but to me that was one of my greatest moments of overcoming, and the entire stadium recognised it.
“Many people were moved by the scene, but my biggest pain was knowing that I could have won a medal, I was ready, but saw the medal escape. It was my greatest sorrow. The 100m was my biggest bet, my best race. I just thought, I'll defer to Rio 2016.”
Despite the outcome, Nascimento came away from London with a 200m gold, 400m silver and a new fiancée.
Immediately following his 200m win, the double-arm amputee unfolded a hand-written note in Portugese and held it up live on television, asking his girlfriend to marry him.
“I was not thinking about it when I went to London,” Nascimento said of the proposal. “I thought of it one day before the race, before going to sleep. I thought I'd ask Thalita to marry if I won, but did not know how it would be. It was a surprise for everyone.”
Nascimento now has more than enough motivation to make a run at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, next July, and without a doubt he’ll be a name to watch at the Rio 2016 Games in his home country.
But in the meantime, he’s bound to be known not for the race he won, but the race he insisted on finishing.
Editor’s Note: For the final 50 days of the year, the IPC will count down the year’s top moments in Paralympic sport, culminating with the year’s best moment on 31 December.
The 50 moments were selected by nominations from National Paralympic Committees and International Federations and are based on sport performance, emotional moments, media attraction and athletes’ personal stories.
The IPC would also like to call on the public to submit their own nominations for what they believe was the top Paralympic moment of 2012. They can do so by emailing email@example.com, or by leaving a comment on www.Facebook.com/ParalympicGames or sending a tweet to @Paralympic.