The year 2016 will undoubtedly be remembered as a huge milestone in the history of Para canoe and Para triathlon, with both sports making a remarkable Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.
The excellent showing of these two newly-added Paralympic sports makes it to No. 21 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments.
Held at the famous Copacabana beach, the triathlon competition had a lot to offer to the cheering spectators apart from the stunning view.
One of the most spectacular highlights was when the USA performed a clean sweep in the women’s PT2 race on 11 September.
Allysa Seely claimed the gold medal and waited for her teammate Hailey Danisewicz at the finish line. Together, they later cheered and celebrated with the US flag when compatriot Melissa Stockwell arrived third to complete the podium.
“To be able to get my name down as the first gold medallist for Para triathlon is a huge honour. I want to take it very seriously and it is incredible,” Seely said.
“As I crossed the finish line I thought ‘it has been a hard journey with ups and downs and I cannot think of a higher note this could have ended on’.”
For Stockwell, winning the bronze on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 was also an incredibly special experience.
“My bronze medal felt like a gold medal,” she said. “Having my son, battling injuries, then being on the podium with two of my greatest friends, two of my US teammates, training partners…This is one of the greatest moments of my life.”
In the men’s PT2, Morocco and Africa’s lone representative Mohamed Lahna celebrated a big success when he sealed bronze.
Not far from the Copacabana beach, the world best canoeists showcased their excellence at the scenic Lagoa stadium in front of a roaring crowd.
Lots of action and excitement was guaranteed as four of the six medal races were decided by less than a second. This is a clear sign of canoe’s growth and increasing competitiveness over the past few years.
Great Britain’s canoeists dominated the waters at Rio 2016 with Jeanette Chippington (KL1), Emma Wiggs (KL2) and Anne Dickins (KL3) claiming an outstanding hat-trick of gold medals.
“When I crossed the finish line, I heard Edina (Muller) screaming and I thought ‘I was ahead of her, but maybe she got me just at the line’ and then I realised I had won the gold and I still cannot believe it,” said Chippington.
This was the British athlete’s 13th Paralympic medal, 12 years after she sealed her last one as a swimmer in Athens, Greece.
“I am so proud of myself and put so much hard work into this. It is just brilliant,” she added.
On the men’s side, the biggest upset was in the 200m KL2 as Australia’s Curtis McGrath snatched a historical Paralympic title ahead of Austria’s six-time world champion Markus Swoboda.
“Markus is such a strong rival, the sport would not be the same without him. But I am happy to have won and hope me being in the spotlight can get more people involved with Paralympic sports,” said McGrath.
With the two sports leaving such an impressive mark at Rio 2016, they are expected to continue progressing and attracting new athletes on the road to Tokyo 2020.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website. https://www.paralympic.org/top-50-moments-2016