Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Day 1: Paralympic Games preview

24 Aug 2021
a female Para swimmer holds up her gold medal
Spaniard Nuria Marques Soto looking to repeat her gold medal performance from Rio 2016
ⒸGetty Images

The first full day of competitions at Tokyo 2020 will see 24 gold medals being awarded in three sports - Track cycling , swimming, and wheelchair fencing.

There will also be preliminary round action in goalball, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.


Timing: 10:00 to 15:25 JST

Great Britain has topped the cycling medals tally at the last three Paralympic Games - Beijing (2008), London (2012), and Rio (2016). In Rio, Team GB won 12 gold from a total of 21 medals. Most of that success came on the track. In Tokyo, the cyclists from Great Britain will be the one to beat and they will be hoping to improve on their tally from Rio in Tokyo. 

The cycling schedule will start with track events which will be held in two sessions - qualifying rounds in the morning and medal rounds in the evening.

Four finals will be held on the first evening of competitions at the Izu Velodrome.
The action will explode with the Women's C1-C4 Individual pursuit final. Among the favourites in C3 individual pursuit will be American Clara Brown, the US national and Para Pan champion. She may face some challenge from the Chinese duo Sini Zheng and
Wang Xiaomei.

The other finals on the day include women’s C1-3 3000m individual pursuit final; women's C4 3000m individual pursuit final; women's C5 3000m individual pursuit final and men's B 4000m individual pursuit final.


Sini Zeng (CHN)

Zeng blazed into the Paralympic scene after winning three medals – two golds – on the track and road at London 2012. A C2 cyclist, Zeng returned to her second Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hoping to defend her titles but fell just short of the podium in both her track events. She managed silver in the road race and bronze in the road time trial, and has since continued showing she has golden potential at her third Games in both disciplines. She won the individual time trial and took bronze in the road race at the 2019 Road Worlds, and showed her speed again by winning the individual pursuit at the 2020 Track Worlds.

Sini Zheng Ⓒ Getty Images


Timing: 9:00 to 11:49 and 17:00 to 21:05 JST

Most action on the opening day will happen at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre pool with 16 finals scheduled in the evening session.


Finals will be held in Men's 400m Freestyle - S9 Final; Women's 400m Freestyle - S9 Final; Men's 100m Backstroke - S1 Final; Men's 100m Backstroke - S2 Final; Women's 100m Backstroke - S2 Final; Men's 100m Butterfly - S14 Final; Women's 100m Butterfly - S14 Final; Men's 50m Breaststroke - SB3 Final; Women's 50m Freestyle - S6 Final; Men's 50m Freestyle - S10 Final; Women's 50m Freestyle - S10 Final; Men's 100m Butterfly - S13 Final; Women's 100m Butterfly - S13 Final; Men's 200m Freestyle - S5 Final; Women's 200m Freestyle - S5 Final; Men's 100m Freestyle - S8 Final.

Australia’s Brenden Hall, a double Paralympic champion, start as the favourite to defend his Rio 2016 Paralympic gold in men's 400m freestyle S9.

Hall is also a three-time world champion and a world record holder and is likely to face some competition from Italian Federico Morlacchi, Mexico City 2017 world champion and silver medallist from Rio 2016 while London 2019 world champion Jacobo Garrido of Spain and France's Ugo Didier, making his Paralympic debut, will try to cause an upset. Garrido has won the European title and set the best time of the year at Madeira 2020 in May.

The women's 400m freestyle S9 final will see three main medal contenders - Australians Lakeisha Patterson and Ellie Cole, and Spain's Nuria Marques, chasing the medals. While Marques is the defending Paralympic champion and the gold medallist from the Mexico City 2017 Worlds, Patterson is the reigning world champion from London 2010 and the fastest woman in the 400m freestyle S9 this year.


Jacob Garrido (ESP): London 2019 world champion from Spain is another one to watch in the 400m freestyle S9. On his Paralympic debut, France's Ugo Didier will try to make an upset and win his first medal in Tokyo. He won the European title and set the best time of the year at Madeira 2020 in May.

Yip Pin Xiu (SIN): The swimmer from Singapore will be the biggest star in the race as the reigning Paralympic and World Champion lead in women's 100m backstroke S2.  She is also the owner of the World record and the fastest time in 2021. Miyuki Yamada may give hosts Japan one of their first medals in the pool.

Yip Pin Xiu Ⓒ OIS

Francesco Bettella (ITA): He is expected to lead the way as the reigning European champion and the silver medallist from Rio 2016 in the men’s 100m backstroke in S1 class.

He is also the pole sitter in the event as the owner of the fastest time of the year from the Euros in Madeira. His main rival in Tokyo will be Iyad Shalabi from Israel, a silver medallist from Madeira and the second-fastest man in the event this year.

Alberto Abarza (CHI): The Chilean will be the top contender in the men's 100m backstroke S2 final as the bronze medallist from the last two World Championships. He is also the Parapan American Games champion from Lima 2019.

Abarza will have to look out for Brazil’s Gabriel dos Santos who set the fastest time of the year at the National Trials in Sao Paulo in June.


Timings: from 9:00 to 14:00 and 15:30 to 20:15 JST

The competitions will open with Men's and Women's Individual Sabre - Category A and B preliminary rounds in the morning at the Makuhari Messe Hall B. The semifinals and medals rounds being held in the evening as four gold medals will be decided in all on the opening day.


Andrii Demchuk (UKR): In the four years between his debut at the London 2012 Paralympics where he finished ninth and Rio 2016, Demchuk went from zero to hero. Topping the podium in the men’s sabre category A, Demchuk followed-up on his first European title won just a few months before.

Since getting the major confidence boost of being the Paralympic champion, Demchuk has really come into his own. He has consistently finished on the World Cup podium in sabre and retained his regional gold in 2018. His main event remains the sabre where fans can enjoy a compelling rivalry with Hungary’s Richard Osvath, whom he faced in the final at the last Paralympic Games.

Andrii Demchuk Ⓒ Eva Pavia