Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Day 4 review: History for Ethiopia's Mengistu on a day of shocks

Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu becomes her country's first Paralympic champion while multi-medalled table tennis star Natalia Partyka is forced to settle for bronze 28 Aug 2021
Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu (left) won the women's 1,500m T13 to make history for her country
Ⓒ Naomi Baker / Getty Images

History was made on Day 4 (28 August) of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with Ethiopia crowning their first Paralympic champion at the Olympic Stadium. Stars such as Bebe Vio, Amalia Perez and Allysa Seely returned once again to the top of the podium. But at the same time, there were shockwaves as Poland’s table tennis sensation Natalia Partyka and Japan’s wheelchair rugby team saw their gold medal hopes dashed. 

Saturday’s action was a mix of emotions, with nine sports deciding their medallists. Here are some of the highlights:


Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu made history on the track as the 21-year-old brought Ethiopia their first ever Paralympic gold. 

Mengistu was flying in the final lap of the women’s 1,500m T13 to finish ahead of the USA’s Liza Corso and Tunisia’s Somaya Bousaid, respectively. No one was close to the Ethiopian, who clocked 4:23.24, almost seven seconds ahead of Corso. It was her first major championships and second international competition, having won the Tunis 2021 Grand Prix in March. 

There was also a first for teenage star Ntando Mahlangu, who at 19 years old secured his first Paralympic title in record-breaking fashion. The South African soared 7.17m in the men’s long jump T63 at his second Paralympic Games.


Familiar faces were back on top of the Paralympic podium in Italy’s Bebe Vio, Mexico’s Amalia Perez and the USA’s Allysa Seely.

Italy’s golden girl Vio successfully defended her women’s foil category B Paralympic crown, celebrating after landing the winning point on her Chinese opponent Zhou Jingjing. The Italian went over to her team on the stands, followed by a swarm of photographers. 

In powerlifting, the women’s up to 61kg category was one of the most highly anticipated Para powerlifting events at Tokyo 2020 and the final went above and beyond expectations. 

Mexico’s Amalia Perez took her country’s first gold in Tokyo in her final 131kg-attempt to collect her fourth consecutive Paralympic title in a nail-biting competition. After she raised the bar to 131kg, her Nigerian rival Lucy Ejike failed in her final attempt of 135kg and had to settle for bronze (130kg) behind Kuzieva (130kg but lower body weight). For Perez the podium at Tokyo 2020 was the sixth in her career.

Triathlon got underway on Saturday and saw the USA’s Allysa Seely repeat her success from Rio 2016. Her accomplishment in the women’s PTS2 seemed almost impossible eight months ago, when she was fighting for her life after being diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection in her heart with blood clots.  Once again her fighting spirit was needed as she finished a minute ahead of teammate Hailey Danz. 


There were also surprising results on Saturday. 

A gold medallist since 2004 Athens, Poland’s Natalia Partyka had simply ruled the table tennis roost in the women’s single class 10 ever since and remained the undisputed queen of the Games.

But on Saturday, she finally met her match in Australian Qian Yang, who was more robust and determined to end the dominance of the champion. 

Yang won the absorbing contest 3-2 (11-7, 4-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9) but not before being stretched in the deciding fifth, capitalising on Partyka’s errors to reach the gold medal match on Monday (30 August). Partyka will settle for bronze.

Japan’s biggest gold medal hopefuls in the wheelchair rugby team were stunned by Great Britain in the semi-final, falling 55-49 and out of  contention. It would have been the country’s first Paralympic title in the sport, and one that the nation was hoping for after a historic bronze from Rio 2016. 

But it was not meant to be, as the British advanced to play the USA in their first  Paralympic final on Sunday (29 August). Japan will try to secure a medal against Australia.