The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced the Ones to Watch athletes for 2017 for football 5-a-side and wheelchair tennis on Wednesday (11 January).
Selected in partnership with International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Ones to Watch athletes are individuals who have the potential to make the headlines in football 5 and wheelchair during the next Paralympic cycle ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
With one eye on the next Paralympic Games, many of this year’s Ones to Watch are young athletes who will develop between now and Tokyo 2020. Others are Paralympic and world medallists looking to stay at the top of their game.
Between now and 19 January, the IPC will announce Ones to Watch athletes in two sports each day. Around 230 athletes from 22 sports will be named Ones to Watch for 2017 in an effort to make it easier for the public and media to understand which athletes to look out for.
The 2017 Ones to Watch for football 5 and wheelchair tennis are:
Ali Pektas (GER)
Germany’s top scorer will be hoping to make an impact at this summer’s European Championships on home turf in Berlin.
Behzad Zadaliasghari (IRI)
Was outstanding for the Iranian team at Rio 2016 as they became the first Asian country to win a football 5 medal at the Paralympic Games.
Emrah Ocal (TUR)
Turkey’s best player at Rio 2016 as the European team finished fifth, their best-position ever position at a Paralympic Games.
The “Paralympic Pele” was instrumental for Brazil as they won their fourth successive Paralympic title at Rio 2017. Scored two wonder goals in the semi-final against China.
The captain of the all-conquering Brazilian side that has won every major title. Scored the winning goal in the Rio 2016 Paralympic final against Iran.
Wang Zhoubin (CHN)
A three-time Paralympian who made his debut at Beijing 2008. A talented footballer who helped China secure fourth place at Rio 2016.
Alfie Hewett (GBR)
Announced himself on to the world stage with a very successful 2016, winning two medals at the Rio Paralympics and claiming the doubles crown at Wimbledon together with Gordon Reid.
Angelica Bernal (COL)
A breakthrough player who, before her switch to the main tour, reached number two in the girls’ world rankings after winning the 2011 and 2012 Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters singles titles.
Diede de Grrot (NED)
The latest off the Dutch conveyor belt of world class players. Made 18 finals in 2016 and claimed Rio 2016 doubles silver.
Dylan Alcott (AUS)
The world’s best quads player captured Rio 2016 singles and doubles gold as well as the Australian Open in 2016. A former Paralympic champion in wheelchair basketball.
Gordon Reid (GBR)
Enjoyed a memorable 2016, winning two Grand Slam singles titles, claiming Rio 2016 singles gold and finishing off the year as world No.1.
Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)
After winning Parapan titles in 2011 and 2015, Fernandez followed up Wimbledon doubles gold in 2015 by winning the Roland Garros singles title in 2016.
Iaty Erenlib (ISR)
Erenlib’s best singles ranking is fifth after several strong tournament performances where he made finals and semi-finals in ITF 1 and 2 Series tournaments throughout 2015 and 2016.
Lucas Sithole (RSA)
In 2013 became the first African wheelchair tennis player to win a Grand Slam after he won the US Open. Consistently ranked amongst the world’s best quads players.
Jiske Griffioen (NED)
In 2016 she retained her Australian Open title, was the first winner of women’s singles at Wimbledon and won Rio 2016 singles and doubles gold. Rounded off her year winning the NEC Masters title.
Joachim Gerard (BEL)
The big, powerful Belgian has won the NEC Masters title for the last two years and was runner-up at Roland Garros in 2016.
Yui Kamiji (JPN)
Outside of Europe, Kamiji is the most the successful women’s wheelchair tennis player. She enjoyed a fantastic 2016 winning three Grand Slams in doubles and will aim to be on top form for Tokyo 2020.
On Thursday (12 January), the IPC will announce Ones to Watch athletes in athletics and equestrian.