Paris 2024

Paralympic Games

28 August - 8 September

Paris 2024: Lucas Mazur relishing ‘once-in-a-lifetime' home Paralympics

Tokyo 2020 Para badminton champion hoping to defend title in front of French fans 28 Aug 2023
A male Para badminton player competes
Mazur won two medals at Tokyo 2020, where Para badminton was included in the Paralympic programme for the first time.
Ⓒ Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

When French Para badminton star Lucas Mazur thinks about the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, he imagines it to be a “big party”. 

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion sees next year’s Games in the French capital as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to top the podium in his home country.

“I’m very excited that we are very close to one year to go until the Paralympics, because I’m sure that it will be a great event for Para sports. It will also be a good stage for Paralympic athletes,” the 25-year-old athlete said ahead of the milestone date.

“Everyone in France is very excited about Paris 2024. They will see the Paralympic Games and to see Paralympic sports, it will be a very good lesson.”  

Mazur made 'history' at Tokyo 2020 by becoming one of the first Para badminton champions. @Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

Star in the City of Light 

Para badminton is one of 22 sports that will be contested at Paris 2024, which take place between 28 August and 8 September. Up to 4,400 athletes will gather in France, competing in 549 medal events. 

Two years since winning the men’s singles SL4 and silver in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5, at Tokyo 2020, Mazur is now hoping to celebrate again at Paris’ Porte de la Chapelle Arena, despite facing the pressure of representing his country on the biggest stage. 

“I feel proud to host the Games in my country,” Mazur said. “People have to be there because it’s where the world’s best athletes will be – at the Paralympics and Olympic Games. If they’re not coming, they are missing out. 

“But it also means to me a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations by family and friends, coaches, and sponsors. Everyone I talk to, says ‘Hey, you have to win a gold medal again, come on’.” 

Mazur captured the silver medal in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with Faustine Noel. @Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

Unlike the Tokyo Games, where there were no crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be 2.8 million tickets available in Paris. It also means Mazur will have the chance to compete in front of his friends and family. 

“I hope the crowd will be pushing the athletes. We want to share (the moment) with them,” Mazur said. 

“We want to share because at Tokyo 2020, COVID stopped everything related to travel. We hope to share a big party with the crowd and also with my family.”

Mazur wants to play in front of a full crowd at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. @Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

History-maker in Tokyo 

Mazur was introduced to badminton at school more than 15 years ago. He has been in love with the sport since then, climbing his way to become one of the best Para badminton players in the world. 

At the Paralympics, he competes in the SL4 category for athletes with impairment in their lower limb who compete while standing. 

“In the beginning, it was a pleasure when I was a kid, and now it is like a job,” he said. “When I was a child, I always knew that I would be an athlete. I never focused in school – I was only thinking about sports and being the best. 

“I’ve always dreamed of being a medallist and a champion because when you check the podium, you have only one champion. That’s what I want – I want to be at that one seat, I don’t want to be in second place or the third place.” 

So, when asked what it meant to capture the gold medal at Tokyo 2020, where Para badminton was included in the Paralympic programme for the first time, Mazur has a simple answer – history.

Mazur won gold after a hard-fought three-game final against India’s Suhas Yathiraj at Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Stadium. 

“It means history because I became the first Paralympic champion. It was a dream come true for me,” Mazur said. 

“Being a Paralympic champion changed my life because when I came back (to France), I could feel how proud my family was. Also in my city, when I was walking or taking the bus or the train, everybody knew my face and came to me. That was very special, and it had never happened to me before even when I was world champion.”

Big party in Paris 

Mazur says the Paralympic Games is different from any other tournaments he has competed in – there is pressure to perform and the attention the athletes get is incomparable. He still remembers when he found out that the sport would be staged at Tokyo 2020, but also when he learned that Paris was awarded the rights to host the 2024 Games.

“When we learned Paris was organising the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, everyone was getting crazy because we knew that it’s only one time in our life,” he said. “Everyone in France was very proud and felt very lucky to organise something very important."

Mazur captured three gold medals at the European Para Championships 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in August. @European Para Championships 2023

With one year to go until the Games, Mazur is also looking forward to the unique experience they will offer away from the field of play.

The Opening Ceremony in Paris will take place outside of a stadium for the first time in history, with the Athletes’ Parade to stretch through the heart of the French capital to the iconic Place de la Concorde.

The Paralympic Village, located along the banks of the Seine river, will be the perfect place for athletes to prepare for the Games. Mazur is excited to meet athletes from other countries and share some of the best moments with them, an opportunity that he missed out on in Tokyo.

“When I remember Tokyo 2020, I’ve been missing a small thing because I was too focused on my competition and my badminton games. It was to share with other athletes from other countries,” he said.

“I really want to meet for example, USA athletes because I’m a big fan of their clothes. I want to exchange some clothes,” he added. “In Tokyo, I didn’t even take a small time to share with other athletes. I only ate with French athletes from other sports, so I really hope this time, I can interact with other athletes from other countries.”

Mazur also hopes that more people will take up Para sports after watching him play in Paris. And he believes athletes should be role-models to younger people.

“Having a disability is not a problem. You can turn it to have a chance to do something – to be a good ambassador or a good athlete because if you follow your dream, you can do anything.”