Sept.18 marks the final day of this summer’s Paralympics — an epic tournament consisting of 23 events with over 500 medals to be won by athletes. We should all recognize the many events from this summer’s 2016 Olympics. Paralympics athletes compete in everything from cycling to powerlifting to swimming.
Sports are adapted to better suit the competitors — such as sitting volleyball and basketball — and classifications vary from sport to sport for the best configuration of similarly able athletes. Countries from all over the world — 163 in total — entered teams this year. This year promised amazing competition — and it delivered.
Despite the great feats of talent and sportsmanship, coverage is minimal. Having no less physical prowess and dedication than athletes in the Olympics, participants of the Paralympics should be receiving just as much buzz and news coverage. The BBC covered much of their progression through the events, but little else is readily available on other news outlets.
Country and world records are being broken this year at the Paralympics and each one deserves proper celebration. There is just as much merit in breaking a record, even if it applies solely to Paralympic classes and standards. These athletes have trained long and hard for the opportunity to represent their country, just like the much-loved Olympic athletes. They too should receive national coverage and kudos for their accomplishments.
This year, British athletes secured 27 more medals total than the London 2012 Paralympics and they won gold faster than the last Paralympics as well.
Lucy Ejike achieved an impressive powerlift of 142 kilograms, taking the gold medal for Nigeria and busting the women’s world record for the -61 kilogram category in powerlifting, reported Guinness World Records. Multiple swimming events for both men and women have seen faster overall times with even more world records shaved down.
This year also brought tragedy new to the Paralympics since its inception, with the death of Iranian cyclist, Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad. On a mountainous bit of the cycling course, Golbarnezhad crashed and suffered head injuries.
“The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest,” said the International Paralympic Committee.
The Paralympics will close with a moment of silence for the cyclist and the Iranian flags have been lowered to half-mast for the remainder of the ceremony. Coverage of his death has been sparse as well, schlepped into the smallest headlines and side columns.
As for medal counts, China maintained a strong lead through Sept. 18 with over 230 medals total for their country. Great Britain fell in second, followed by Ukraine in third and the U.S. in a safe fourth spot.
Regardless if they medaled or not, every participant should return home with pride knowing they represented their country and community of athletes with disabilities. The world may not be watching as closely as the 2016 Olympics, but they don’t need our validation to keep going forward and crushing world records and personal bests.