The multi-Paralympic and world medallist and one of the host country’s main medal hopes proved to be up to the challenge in Rio winning medals in all nine events he took part in. In front of a deafening crowd that packed the Olympic Aquatics Stadium each time he hit the pool, Dias sealed four golds, three silvers and two bronzes, finishing as the Brazilian most decorated athlete.
The US wheelchair racer rounded off her best Paralympic Games to date, claiming four golds and two silvers. But the 27-year-old, who won the marathon Grand Slam (New York, Chicago, Boston and London) in the last three years, left Rio with a bittersweet taste as she lost to China’s Lihong Zou in the women’s marathon T54 although both clocked the same time (1:38.44), because the latter’s wheel crossed the finish line first.
Carlos Serrano, COL, swimming
Colombia’s 36-year-old gold medal drought came to an end thanks to Serrano, who won the men’s 100m breaststroke SB7 in a new world record time (1:12.50). Not satisfied with that, the 18-year-old went on to seal silver in the 100m freestyle S7 and bronze in the 50m freestyle S7, becoming his country’s most decorated Paralympian ever.
After becoming a double world champion in Glasgow, Great Britain, last year, the 20-year-old had high hopes towards this year’s Paralympic Games. And she did not disappoint. Rivard set two world records on her way to gold in the 50m and 400m freestyle S10, and added another title in the 100m freestyle S10 and a silver in the 200m individual medley SM10.
Jefinho, BRA, football 5-a-side
‘Paralympic Pele’s’ two outstanding goals in the semi-finals to defeat China 2-1, dribbling through the entire rival’s defence, had people talking for many days. Jefinho ended the competition as his team’s top scorer with three goals, together with Ricardinho, leading Brazil to their fourth consecutive football 5-a-side Paralympic gold and confirming his status as the world’s best player.
Yanina Martinez, ARG, athletics
Twenty years passed until Argentina could win a new Paralympic gold medal through sprinter Yanina Martinez, who crossed the finish line first in the women’s 100m T36. Track and field athletes Betiana Basualdo and Nestor Suarez were the last to top the podium for Argentina, in Atlanta, USA, in 1996.
The world’s fastest female Paralympian put on another show on the track as she stormed to triple gold in Rio. The Cuban 24-year-old set a world record (11.40) on her way to gold in the women’s 100m T12. Durand added another title to her haul in the 200m T12 and later went on to lower her own world record in the 400m T12 (51.77) to achieve a hat-trick of titles in Rio.
The 24-year-old became Trinidad and Tobago’s first Paralympic champion in 32 years, after winning the men’s javelin throw F42/43/44 with a world record throw of 57m32. But hungry for more glory, Stewart went on to claim silver in the discus throw F43/44. “Hopefully this is not going to be my last Paralympic experience and will compete in many more Games in the future,” he said.
Age seems to be no barrier for the 43-year-old powerlifter, who sealed her third successive Paralympic gold in Rio. Perez lifted a world record 130kg, just ahead of Nigeria’s Esther Oyema (127kg). Perez showed no signs of slowing ahead of next year’s World Championships in Mexico.
Rebecca Murray, USA, wheelchair basketball
The 26-year-old was instrumental in helping her team defeat defending Paralympic champion Germany 62-45 in the women’s wheelchair basketball final by scoring 33 points, more than half of her team’s. "We knew Germany was going to come out for a fight and that it would be an aggressive game," she said. "We knew we had to stay composed and not get rattled because of the aggression, and just stay together."