After the record-breaking success of Team GB at the Olympics in Rio last month, it’s now the turn of our paralympians to go for gold in Brazil. Here are six of Britain’s finest to look out in the coming 12 days…
Since making his Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000, Lee Pearson (pictured above) has won 12 Paralympic medals, 10 of which are golds. He’s been picked to be flagbearer at the opening ceremony, which is tonight (Wednesday) at 9.30pm (all times UK). ‘I genuinely feel that we are among the best prepared and supported athletes at the Paralympic Games and I can’t wait to lead my teammates into the stadium,’ said Lee, who needs two more golds to overtake Dames Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sarah Storey and become ParalympicsGB’s most successful modern competitor.
When to watch: The equestrian competition starts on Sunday, September 11.
Wheelchair tennis player Jordanne Whiley already has nine grand slam titles to her name. Having won a bronze in the doubles at London 2012, she’s now after gold, both in the doubles and singles tournaments. She was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a bone disease inherited from her father, Keith, who himself won a Paralympic bronze on the track in New York in 1984. Jordanne was one of five Paralympians to strip off for a photoshoot to promote positive body image ahead of the Games.
When to watch: The wheelchair tennis tournament starts at 1pm on Friday, September 9.
In 2009, at the age of 18, Jack Rutter was a promising footballer about to be offered a professional contract by Birmingham City, then a Premier League club. However, he was left with brain damage after being punched in an unprovoked attack during a night out. Now 25, Jack is the captain of ParalympicsGB’s 7-a-side team and has said leading his teammates out in Rio will ‘easily be the proudest moment’ of his career.
When to watch: ParalympicsGB play Brazil at 2pm on Thursday, September 8
Another ParalympicsGB athlete going for multiple medals is Olivia Breen, who will take part in 100m, long jump and relay competitions in Rio. The 20-year-old, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two, is aiming to improve on the relay bronze she won in London. She has said the success of Team GB in the Olympics last month is proving ample motivation: ‘They were amazing and seeing so many incredible performances has been really inspiring.’
When to watch: The T38 women’s long jump final takes place at 10.28pm on Sunday, September 11.
Events: Cycling and athletics
One of Team GB’s most exciting prospects is Kadeena Cox, who is competing in athletics and cycling competitions in Rio. Kadeena was a talented able-bodied sprinter before she suffered a stroke in 2014, which in turn caused multiple sclerosis. On the track she will compete in 100m, 400m and 4x100m relay competitions, while in cycling she’s entered into 500m time trial and road race events.
When to watch: The C4/5 road race is at 1.35pm on Saturday, September 17.
Event: Wheelchair racing
David Weir, aka the Weirwolf, is preparing for his final Games and is looking to bow out in style. Weir was one of the major stars of the Paralympics in London four years ago where he picked up two golds, taking his career tally to six, and this time around he’s competing in five different wheelchair racing events; T54 400m, 800m, 1500m, marathon and 4x400m relay. He is risking missing the birth of his fourth child while taking part in the Games, with the baby due on September 17.
When to watch: David is racing in the T54 marathon at 4.30pm on Sunday, September 18.