Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Tokyo 2020: Takeaways from Para Athletics

Twenty one-year-old Ethiopian Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu won the women's 1500m T13 in her first major championships 22 Oct 2021
Two women racing side-by-side in 1,500m
CREATING HISTORY: Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu (left) won the women's 1,500m T13 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
By Lucy Dominy | For the IPC

From crumbling world records to marriage proposals, Para Athletics at Tokyo 2020 had everything.


Para Athletics delivered historic first gold medals for some countries at Tokyo 2020, contributing to the most diverse Paralympic medals table in history.

Twenty one-year-old Ethiopian Tigist Gezahagn Mengistu won the women's 1500m T13 in her first major championships. Pakistan, courtesy of Haider Ali, claimed their first gold in the men's discus F37 with a Paralympic record throw of 55.26m.

Ecuador were also firmly in the mix, with a great story to boast. Sisters Poleth and Anais Mendez secured gold and bronze in the women’s shot put F20, respectively.

Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Priyantha Herath Mudiyanselage smashed the World record by a staggering 4m in the men’s javelin F46.

And Sherman Guity made headlines for Costa Rica, setting a new Paralympic record (21.43sec) on his way to gold in the men's 200m T64.

Champion athlete Omara Durand of Cuba celebrates with her guide after winning her sixth Paralympic title at the Tokyo 2020 Games.


Cuba’s Omara Durand felt the need for speed again, powering to her sixth gold medal over two Paralympics in the women’s T12 sprints. Taking the tape in the 100m, 200m and 400m, Durand’s opponents will be wondering what it will take to beat her.

Germany’s Markus Rehm stole the show in the men’s long jump T64. Once again jumping over 8m – as he is famous for being the first Para Athlete to do – Rehm completed a hat-trick of titles with a best of 8.18m

Considering a change of nickname is Swiss ‘silver bullet’ Marcel Hug. Competing in his fourth Paralympics, Hug posted his best ever performance of four golds from four events – the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m and marathon T54.

Heading into Tokyo 2020 as the world’s fastest Paralympian, Ireland’s Jason Smyth lived-up to expectations to take his sixth gold, and fourth consecutive men’s 100m T13 crown.

Great Britain’s ‘Hurricane’ Hannah Cockroft also grabbed her sixth career gold, pushing over the line first in both the women’s 100m and 800m T34.


Cape Verde’s Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo’s Paralympics will live long in the memory thanks to the romantic gesture of her guide that ended-up going viral.

Semedo narrowly missed out on semi-final qualification in the women’s 200m T11 after she finished fourth, but still left the track with a smile on her face.

At the end of the race Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes!

EN ROUTE TO GOLD: Sumit Antil reacts while competing in the men's javelin F64 at the Tokyo 2020 Games.


Action on both the track and field delivered a glut of World records. Whilst they were all impressive in their own right, some really caught the eye.

These included India’s Sumit Antil in the men’s javelin F64. Antil broke the previous best three times on his way to gold, ending up adding more than four metres to finish on 66.95m.

Tunisia’s Raoua Tlili also bettered the women’s discus F41 mark by more than 2.5m. Her throw of 37.91 was also enough to secure her sixth Paralympic gold.

South Africa's Ntando Mahlangu celebrates his win in the men's 200 T61 at the Tokyo 2020 Games.


The marquee athletics event at the Paralympic Games – the men’s 100 T64 - delivered all the thrills and spills one would expect.

Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock, the men’s 100m T44 Paralympic champion, missed out on the gold after the top three were separated by a mere 0.3 seconds.

Germany’s Felix Streng was the victor in 10.76 seconds, holding off Guity, who gave Costa Rica their first medal with a silver in 10.78sec.

The fun did not stop there. Peacock and Streng’s teammate Johannes Floors then had to wait an agonising three minutes to discover who had secured the bronze. After a photo finish was reviewed, officials determined both sprinters would take home bronze with a time of 10.79.

South Africa’s star Para athlete Ntando Mahlangu stormed to the finish, clinching gold in the men’s 200 T61. He also managed to win gold in the T63 long jump; he broke a World record with a final leap of 7.17m.