Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Unforgettable moments of Rio 2016

Ten of the top performances and memories delivered by athletes across the Para sport spectrum. 22 Sep 2016 By Rio 2016

The Paralympic Games of Rio 2016 were a watershed in the history of Paralympic sports. No sports fans who had the privilege to be in the city during September 2016 will ever forget the new heights of performances they witnessed.

Athletes achieved extraordinary standards of sporting excellence that in some cases exceeded their Olympic counterparts. Here are just 10 sporting highlights from a Paralympic Games that will never be forgotten

Daniel Dias makes swimming history

The Brazilian idol made sure that the last night of swimming competition at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium would go down in Paralympic history. Not content with winning his fourth individual gold of Rio 2016 in the 100m freestyle S5, to deafening cheers from the crowd, Dias then steered Brazil's 4x100m medley relay 34 points team to bronze with an extraordinary swim in the third leg. That performance gave him his 24th Paralympic medal in total, overtaking Australia's Matthew Cowdrey as the most successful male Paralympic swimmer of all time.

A festival of world records

Athletes at Rio 2016 were not content with just winning medals. They also wanted to come away from the Games with world records to their name. Over the course of 11 days of competition, a staggering total of 210 world records were set.

Siamand Rahman breaks the 300kg barrier in powerlifting

The defending heavyweight champion from London 2012, Siamand Rahman of Iran, made history at Rio 2016 by winning gold with a massive lift of 300kg, the first ever powerlifter to raise the symbolic weight. Rahman then went even better with lifts of 305kg and, crowning an amazing day at Riocentro, made a giant lift of 310kg.

The fastest Paralympian on the planet

Irish sprinter Jason Smyth, the Usain Bolt of the Paralympic Games, won the 100m in the T13 class in Rio's Olympic Stadium in a time of 10.64s, just outside his world record of 10.46, to win his third consecutive gold in the event.

High speed in the 1,500m

There was a historic race in the Olympic Stadium in the men’s 1,500m T13. The men who finished in the first four places – Algerian gold medallist Abdellatif Baka (3:48.29), Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia (3:48.49), Kenya's Henry Kirwa (3:49.59) and Algeria's Fouad Baka (3:49.84) – all recorded times that would have won them Olympic gold in the same stadium the previous month. Olympic gold was won by US athlete Matthew Centrowitz in a time of 3:50.

Omara Durand, queen of the track

There were plenty of amazing performances from female athletes at the Olympic Stadium. Perhaps the stand-out achievement was the golden treble won by Cuba's 24-year-old sprinting starlet, Omara Durand, who won all three races she competed in in the women’s T12: 100m, 200m and 400m, and for good measure setting world records in the 100m and 400m.

Brazil still unbeatable in football 5-a-side

Ever since 5-a-side football was included at the Paralympic Games, at Athens 2004, there has only been one gold medallist: Brazil. On home soil in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilians were unstoppable on their road to a fourth consecutive gold, led by goal-scoring stars such as Jefinho and Ricardinho. It was Ricardinho's goal that saw the host nation beat Iran 1-0 in the final, but Jefinho's incredible double in the semi-final, which went viral on the internet, was perhaps the highlight.

The USA knock China off their golden perch

While Brazil may have extended their golden run in football 5-a-side, the USA brought to an end China's dominance in women's sitting volleyball. The Chinese had won every gold in the sport since the women's version made its debut at Athens 2004. With a convincing 3-0 win in the gold medal match, the US women put an end to China's hegemony and wrote their names in Paralympic history.

Zanardi on the podium 15 years after life-changing accident

Alessandro Zanardi, a former Formula 1 racing driver, left Rio 2016 with two gold medals and one silver. The silver came in the road race (H5 class) on the 15th anniversary of the car crash in Germany that changed his life for ever. He won gold in the time trial and mixed team relay. The double amputee is now the leading medallist in his Paralympic category, with four golds and two silvers.

Memorable debuts for triathlon and canoeing

Triathlon and canoe sprint chose the best possible settings for their debuts in the Paralympic Games. Triathletes competed against the world-famous backdrop of Copacabana beach, where passionate crowds roared them on, while the canoeists competed on the waters of the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in southern Rio. The two sports were among the best attended of Rio 2016 and have left a lasting impact with all who saw them.