More star athletes will be in action on Day 3 of Tokyo 2020. One of them is archer Zahra Nehmati, from Iran, targets her third gold in the women's individual recurve open, after winning at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. She is also the first female Iranian Paralympic champion.
Another one to watch is American Jessica Long, a class 8 swimmer that has an overall record of 23 medals and 13 golds in the Paralympic Games. She made her international debut at age 12, at the Athens 2004 Games, and made quite an impression after winning three events. This will be her fifth participation in this competition.
Tunisia's four-time Paralympic champion Raoua Tlili has been the world's best in women's F41 events for more than 10 years and will again start as a strong favourite for gold in the shot put and discus at Tokyo 2020.
Zahra Nemati (IRI)
Nemati has been ticking off historical milestones in archery and breaking boundaries for female athletes since she won gold at the 2015 Asian Para Championships. After winning Paralympic gold in archery in the women's individual recurve open at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, she targets her third in Tokyo. In London, she also became the first Iranian female Paralympic champion and in Rio competed at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Jessica Long (USA)
The US superstar is the only one of the current top five female Para swimming medallists still competing. The 23-time medallist and 13-time Paralympic champion in the S8 could move as high as second in the top five if she can add to her 13 gold, six silver and four bronze medals in Tokyo. Born in Siberia with a rare condition that meant her legs had to be amputated, she was adopted by a US family from a Russian orphanage when she was a year old. At 12, Long made her international debut at the Athens 2004 Games as the youngest on the US team and won three gold medals to showcase her potential. Tokyo 2020 will be her fifth Games.
Raoua Tlili (TUN)
Tunisia's four-time Paralympic champion has been the world's best in women's F41 events for more than 10 years and will again start as a strong favourite for gold in the shot put and discus at Tokyo 2020. In 2019, Tlili completed the double-double for a third successive World Championships as she defended her titles in both events from Doha 2015 and London 2017.
David Drahoninsky (CZE)
Drahoninsky is a role model of consistency in Para archery. His long list of accolades goes back to his gold in the men’s individual compound W1 at Beijing 2008. He followed that up with two silvers in the same event at London 2012 and Rio 2016. After almost two decades in the sport, the world No. 2 is still in top competitive form, most recently winning the bronze medal at the 2019 Worlds.
Birgit Skarstein (NOR)
The dual Paralympian is the current world champion in the women’s single sculls (PR1W1x) and continues to hold the World Best Times with a blistering 10:13.63, which she set at the 2018 World Championships. In fact, she has not lost a regatta since finishing fourth at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Skarstein is also a world class cross-country skier, serving as Norway’s flagbearer at the 2018 Paralympic Games. A vocal advocate on disability rights, Skarstein showed she is a triple threat by wowing audiences during her turn on Norway’s version of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ (Skal Vi Danse).
Michel Gomes Pessanha (BRA)
If there is one team that can end the medal drought for the Americas in Para rowing, it is the mixed double sculls team from Brazil – Michel Pessanha and Josiane Loma. They will hope to better the bronze that Loma won for Brazil in the same event at Beijing 2008. Pessanha is no stranger to the regatta, having placed on or near the podium of nearly every World Championships since 2014. Still trying to best the bronze he won at the 2014 Worlds, Pessanha and Loma represent Brazil’s best chance at a Para rowing medal in Tokyo.
Ricardo Ten Argiles (ESP)
Argiles is a Paralympic champion in swimming from Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. And now he has a thirst for one more Paralympic Games. The Spaniard only took up cycling in 2017 and was a natural athlete, falling just short of a road race world title and taking bronze in the time trial. The following year was a huge success, reaching the top of the C1 ranking with the road race World Championship title and multiple World Cup victories.
Junko Hirose (JPN)
As one half of a judo power couple, Junko Hirose’s bronze at Rio 2016 was Japan’s first women’s medal in Paralympic judo. Married to Makoto Hirose who competes in the men’s up to 90kg, Junko showed that her performance was no fluke at the 2018 Worlds with second in the women’s up to 57kg. As a fifth grader, she became interested in judo when watching Manga cartoons. But it was after being inspired by Japan’s gold medal win in goalball at London 2012 that she decided to make it her main focus.
Sandrine Martinet (FRA)
When Martinet finally became the Paralympic champion in the women’s up to 52kg at Rio 2016, it completed a medal haul that spanned four Paralympic Games and put the ghosts of London 2012 to rest. After breaking her ankle four years earlier and finishing fifth, Martinet was determined to come back in Brazil and grab the gold that had so far eluded her. Since then, Martinet has changed weight categories, moving down to the up to 48kg where she has gone from strength to strength. Competing at the 2018 World Championships, the Frenchwomen grabbed bronze and also became the European title-holder the following-year. Juggling her responsibilities as an elite athlete, mother and physiotherapist, Martinet is the definition of a Wonder Woman.
Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane (RSA)
Africa’s most successful female wheelchair tennis player of all time Montjane made her Paralympic Games debut in Beijing in 2008. She made her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros in 2013 and in 2018, she became the first black South African woman to play at Wimbledon, where she reached the singles semi-finals. During her career, she has reached seven Grand Slam singles semi-finals, most recently at this year’s Roland Garros. She’s also a two-time Grand Slam doubles finalist – at the 2019 US Open and the 2021 Australian Open - and has a career-high singles world ranking of No.5.
Matt Stutzman (USA)
Also known as the “Armless Archer” for his unique shooting style with his feet, Stutzman is one of the most well-known faces in Para archery. Most recently, the American was one of the athletes featured in Netflix's ground-breaking Paralympic documentary 'Rising Phoenix'. Sutzman won silver in the men’s individual compound at London 2012 but lost in the round of 16 at Rio 2016. He decided to take a break from the sport before returning with high hopes. Stutzman has taken part in multiple able-bodied competitions since Rio 2016 to improve his skills and took bronze at the 2019 Worlds after losing 144-142 in a close semifinal against teammate Ben Thompson.
Petrucio Ferreira (BRA)
Tokyo 2020 can expect more speed and more records from Ferreira, who has shown no signs of slowing down since setting a world record of 10.42 in the men's 100m T46/47 at the Dubai 2019 World Championships. The world's fastest male Paralympian wants to add more golds to his Paralympic medal tally after taking 100m gold, and 4x100m and 400m T47 silvers at Rio 2016.
Tomoki Sato (JPN)
Nicknamed Tomochan, Sato took on the sport inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics that he had watched on TV. Eight years later, he will be competing at home as one of Japan’s biggest gold medal hopes. Sato left Rio 2016 with two silvers in the 400m T52 and 1,500m T52. But since then, he has taken gold in both events at the London 2017 and Dubai 2019 World Championships.