Ones to watch at the Paralympics, Tokyo 2020!

Ones to watch at the Paralympics, Tokyo 2020!

By Jack Woods

My name is Jack Woods. I'm a 25-year-old Cantabrian who was born with Cerebral Palsy. I was involved in Para athletics from 2006 to 2015, I've also played a bit of table tennis and dabbled in a bit of cycling. I'm now working in the banking industry & enjoy sitting down to watch a game of rugby, cricket or football and I’m also really looking forward to watching the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

It was 2006, and I had just stepped out on an athletics track for the first time at the Independence Games. At that moment, I fell in love with the sport and spent the next three years competing at a national level; I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to compete twice in Australia at Oceania meets. 

I remember running home from school as a 12-year-old in 2008 to watch the Beijing Paralympic Games, watching the stars of today hauling in the medals. Sophie Pascoe, Natalie du Toit & David Weir, to name a few. Here’s a few names & events to keep an eye on over the coming weeks as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics gets underway from August 24.

Picture: Jack Woods (jack_woods96)

Sophie Pascoe once again headlines the New Zealand team in Tokyo. A veteran heading to her 4th Paralympic Games, Pascoe boasts a staggering 15 Paralympic medals, including nine golds from her three previous appearances. The 28-year-old once again heads into the Games as one of New Zealand’s best medal chances.

Picture: Sophie Pascoe 2016 (Twitter: SophPascoe)

2019 double world champion Jaryd Clifford is another name to add to your list. The 22-year-old visually impaired Australian is so quick over 1500m if you blink you might miss him. The double Para Athletics World Champion will be one of the favourites going for gold in both the 1500m and 5000m; watch that clock for a world record!  

Jaryd Clifford 2020 (Victorian Institute of Sport)

The defending women’s Wheelchair basketball gold medalists the United States have named a side mixed with youth & experience and is headlined by Rose Hollermann, the 25-year-old Minnesota native. She returns for her third Paralympics, having been a standout in both London and Rio. Other than a tough test against The Netherlands, the US should breeze through pool play. It’s then in the knockout stage where things get interesting, and you should keep an eye out for a potential semi-final between the US & Australia.

Staying on the court, the New Zealand Wheel Blacks return to the games for the first time since Beijing 2008, having qualified impressively by securing bronze and beating South Korea at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships in Thailand. The Kiwis face 2nd and 4th ranked the United States and Great Britain in pool play, and 5th ranked Canada. On the other side of the draw, the matchup between our Aussie mates and host nation Japan should be a beauty. Nicknamed “murderball”, this sport is a must-watch for those who love the speed & big hits; think of it as a league on wheels!  

I’ve only given a snapshot of what we can look forward to over the course of the Paralympic Games, but as always, there’s something for everyone. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games starts on Tuesday 24 August and run till Sunday 5 September, and you can catch all the action on TVNZ Duke if you’re in New Zealand and Channel 7 if you’re in Australia.

Read more about the Paralympics here.

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