If you switched on Channel 4 over the past few weeks and you’d have found the incredible men and women of the Team GB Paralympic Team absolutely storming the Games, finishing second in the medal table, winning new titles and even defending ones they’ve held since the 1996 games.
We thought it was a good time to have a recap of the games and to look at some of our favourite highlights from Tokyo.
A Winner’s Storey
On Thursday, Dame Sarah Storey won her 17th gold medal and in doing so became Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian of all time. The 43-year-old defended her women’s C4-5 road race title, which she has held since London 2012, to put her one gold ahead of previous record holder Mike Kenny.
On winning her 17th gold with a seven second lead, Storey told Channel 4: ‘I’m a bit overwhelmed, I feel like it’s happening to someone else. I can’t really explain or compute anything about the race, but crossing the line first felt so good.’
As if that wasn’t insane enough, this is Storey’s eighth games, with her career going back to when she was a 14-year-old swimmer at the 1992 Barcelona Games. To put that in perspective, half of Gef’s team wasn’t even born when Storey was winning golds in a different sport to the one she is winning them in now. Having won two golds in Barcelona, three golds in Georgia, USA, in 1996 Storey went on to win silvers and bronzes up until 2004 when she quit swimming and turned to cycling. In Beijing, she won two gold, in London she won four, another three followed in Rio and she has won three in Tokyo too. Against that, GB’s most successful Olympic medalist Jason Kenny has won a mere nine golds.
A High Bar
From a woman with a collection of gold medals to a guy winning his first, 33-year-old Jonathan Broom-Edwards, having won silver in Rio, went one better in this year’s high jump as the world champion took gold in Tokyo.
After winning he said: ‘I always believed in myself and I wanted to come here and jump a new personal best. The weather didn’t play ball but to do a season’s best is amazing.’
One of Sam’s highlights of the games as Team GB won their first ever gold in wheelchair rugby. The European champions led from the start but the US kept the scoreline tight until GB pulled away in a dramatic final quarter in Tokyo with Jim Roberts, 33, managing 24 tries. At the Paralympics, the sport is mixed gender with Kylie Grimes creating history by becoming the first woman to win gold.
If you’ve never watched wheelchair rugby, it’s a really cool game, have a look at the highlights of the final here.
A Bolt from the Blue
With just 400m left of the 1,500m T20 [intellectual impairment] race, Paralympic debutant Owen Miller was going along in fifth and setting a reasonable pace but in a storming final lap, he overtook the rest of the field, overtaking Russian Alexander Rabotnitskii on the last bend and winning the gold in three minutes 54.57 seconds.
He said: ‘It went exactly the way I wanted. I timed it right and knew I could do it. I gave it my all. I went for it and knew nobody was going to catch me. I could never really imagine I’d be a Paralympic gold medallist when I took up the sport, but I am today.’
In every Games since 1996, the Team GB Paralympic team has held the Para-equestrian team title and in Tokyo they retain their title. Victory was secured by the final rider Sophie Wells who scored 75.651% to move them up into the lead. But with the Netherlands a big danger, they had an anxious wait before victory by 0.656% was confirmed.
Simmonds Calls it a Day
Five time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds has said Tokyo, where she finished fifth in her final race, will be her last games, saying: ‘I don’t think I could go for another three years.’
The 26-year-old has been the face of Team GB’s Paralympic swimming team since she made her debut in Beijing aged 13 where she won two golds. The 2012 Games in London saw her as one of the main faces of the entire Paralympics as she took home another two medals, followed up by a fifth gold in Rio.
Simmonds told Channel 4: ‘I think that is my last competition. To go to four Paralympic Games, including a home Games, and to come away with eight Paralympic medals and being part of that Paralympic movement as well… so I think for me, yes, this is going to be my last but I will go home and evaluate. I’m not just saying that because I’m gutted or anything like that, I knew going into these Games this was going to be the last and I don’t think I could go for another three years.’