Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Sport Week: Para athletics top 5 moments

From record medallists to celebrating in front of 80,000 home fans 25 Feb 2020
A picture of a woman with the guide running on the track
Terezinha Guilhermina and her guide Guilherme Santana had an emotional victory at the London 2012 Paralympics
ⒸGetty Images
By World Para Athletics

Para athletics has a long history of fantastic moments at Paralympic Games and picking five of them was far from an easy task. Here are some of the unforgettable achievements.

1. A new leader: Franz Nietlispach becomes the most successful Para athlete in history

When Switzerland’s Franz Nietlispach took the gold medal (1:24:55) in the men’s marathon T54 at the Sydney 2000 he made history establishing a new mark as the most successful Para athletics athlete in Paralympic Games history.

During the 2000 Paralympic Games, Nietlispach, also won two silver medals, in the men’s 1500m and 10000m T54. The gold at the marathon was his 14th in the Games. At Seoul 1988 Nietlispach won eight medals, including six golds, the most ever by a track and field athlete since Rome 1960.

Athens 2004 saw the Swiss compete in both Para Athletics and cycling. At Beijing 2008 he totally switched to cycling, competing in the men’s road individual road race HC.

2. One step forward: Chantal Peticlerc equals Nietlispach’s record 

Canada’s Chantal Peticlerc was already one of the greatest names in Para athletics history when she arrived in Beijing for the 2008 Paralympics. But there was more to come in China.

She won five gold medals to equal Switzerland’s Franz Nietlispach record as the most successful track and field Paralympian ever with 14 golds. Peticlerc had a clean programme at Beijing, where she kept all her titles winning the women’s 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m T54.

In 2009 she received the Paralympic Sport Award for Best Female Athlete in recognition of her achievements at the 2008 Paralympic Games, which included three world records.

3. If I fall, I get up: Terezinha Guilhermina’s emotional gold

Brazil’s Terezinha Guilhermina had already won one gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, in the women’s 200m T11, when she returned to the Olympic Stadium with her guide Guilherme Santana for the 400m.

The pair looked set for victory but Santana fell towards the finish and ended up bring down Guilhermina along with her in one of the most heart-breaking moments of the Games.

One day later the pair returned for the 100m T11 final and cruised to gold with a world-record time (12.01) in a Brazilian podium sweep together with Jerusa Geber and Jhulia Santos.

“It was indeed my greatest accomplishment. The gold medal at the 100m has given me the feeling that it was worthy to have gone to London. Considering that Guilherme had fallen near the end of the 400m final, the victory in the 100m final gave us a special feeling.”

4. You never run alone: Jonnie Peacock delights 80,000 fans

The London Olympic Stadium was packed with 80,000 spectators when then 19-year-old Jonnie Peacock lined up for the men’s 100m T44 final. He was a relative unknown without a major international championships medal but carried the hopes of the home fans in an unpredictable race with no favourites.

As he took the starting block, the crowd started chanting “Peacock, Peacock, Peacock”.  The British sprinter calmed the crowd, coped with the immense pressure and 10.90 seconds later became the Paralympic champion.

“To hear the crowd chant my name and that was amazing, and that's going to live with me forever. I couldn’t have wished for better.”

5. Reaching glory: Markus Rehm’s fourth Paralympic gold

German long jumper Markus Rehm arrived at Rio 2016 as the man to beat having set up at world record of 8.40m at the Doha World Championships the previous year – a result who would have given him a gold medal at both Paralympic and Olympic Games at London 2012.

He had already won a gold medal in the men’s 4x100m relay T42-47 when he arrived at the Olympic Stadium to defend his long jump T44 Paralympic title.

Rehm left no room for questioning and was already on gold medal position after two jumps. But saved best for last breaking the Paralympic record with 8.21m on his final attempt.

Four years later, he comes to Tokyo as one of the biggest stars of the Games.