5 breakthrough stars

With 4,280 athletes competing in London, we’ve chosen a select five who head into the Paralympics already having breakout years. 29 Aug 2012
Dutch Trio women's 100m T43/44

Marlou van Rhijn won the women's 100m T43/44 gold medal at the IPC Athletics European Championships, as her teammate Suzan Verduijn took silver and Iris Pruysen won bronze.

ⒸMarcus Hartmann

These Paralympic Games are set to be the biggest in history.

With London 2012 being the biggest Paralympic Games to date in sheer numbers, there are bound to be several breakout stars among the 4,280 athletes competing. We’ve picked out five who have already had breakout years and are expected to hit the big time on the world’s stage in London.

1. Jonnie Peacock (Great Britain, athletics): Arguably the fastest rising star in Paralympic sport this year, the 19-year-old set a new world record in the 100m T44 sprint in July with a time of 10.85. His blazing speed could make him the face of the Games and Britain’s hero when he lines up against South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius and USA’s Jerome Singleton on 6 September for the hottest event of the Paralympics.

2. Marlou van Rhijn (the Netherlands, athletics): Now known as the “Blade Babe,” the double-amputee became the world-record holder in both the 100m and 200m T43 sprints this year, winning gold in both events at the IPC Athletics European Championships. Look out April Holmes and Marie Amelie-Le Fur, because van Rhijn could be the female Paralympic sprinter of the next generation.

3. Yevheniy Bohodayko (Ukraine, swimming): Only 18 years old, Bohodayko captured five medals at the 2010 World Championships and then exceeded all expectations at the 2011 European Championships, becoming the most decorated swimmer of the event with 10 medals, including eight golds. He might just be the overall top dog in the pool in London.

4. Gustavo Fernandez (Argentina, wheelchair tennis): Out of nowhere, this Argentinian has skyrocketed to the top five of the wheelchair tennis men’s singles world rankings. He struck gold at the 2011 Parapan American Games, and since then has won a number of tournaments and pulled several upsets around the world.

5. Mark Colbourne (Great Britain, cycling): After suffering paralysis from a paragliding accident just three years ago, this British rider has already won a world title in the C1 track time trial. At 42 years of age, this could be his first and last Paralympics, but it could also be one for the record books.

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