Rio, you weren’t without you controversies, but what great love story ever is? It was a summer filled with highs and lows, with nail biting sprints and devastating losses. But it’s all over now, the Paralympians are packing their bags and heading home.
It was only meant to be a summer fling, but there are many awesome athletes that have stolen our hearts forever. Here are our new Paralympic sheroes.
Libby Clegg and Chris Clarke
Libby has Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a deteriorating eye condition which has left her with only slight peripheral vision in her left eye. Her eyesight deteriorated further this year, but she didn’t let that stop her, now she is required to wear a blindfold while racing and has a guide runner, Chris Clarke. The pair have only been running together for a year, but they won gold in the T11 100m and 200m sprints at Rio this year.
As the only woman in Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad, 21-year-old Coral Batey is badass. Rio was her first Paralympics, but she’s been representing GB in various competitions for the past two years. Unfortunately, Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad were knocked out in the first round, but Batey’s presence on the team has been inspiring all the same.
Having installed a big screen in her old high school so that students could watch her compete, Coral’s former PE teacher commented, “It is very much a male dominated sport but she comes out and gives it just as good as the men. We’re all very proud of her.”
Kadeen first got involved in para-athletics in 2015, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She won gold at the T37 100m World Championships before switching to cycling and winning the 500m time trial in the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, making her a world champion in two different sports. Oh wait, and in the Rio Olympics, she casually won a bronze for sprinting and a gold for cycling. As you do.
The two Ellies
Ellie Robinson is following in the footsteps of legendary teammate, Ellie Simmonds. Simmonds is only 21, but this is her third Olympics, and acts as something of a mentor to Robinson who is 15 and just beginning her Olympic career. Both Ellies have achondroplasia, which is a common form of dwarfism – and both are paralympic swimming world record holders, which is less common.
Ellie Robinson currently holds the British record in the S6 50m butterfly and the world record in the 100m, both set when she was 13. Because, you know, why not? Robinson won gold at the Rio Paralympics in the S6 50m butterfly, while Simmonds won her fifth gold medal and set the world record for the 200m medley. Best PR for the name ‘Ellie’ ever.
Abby Kane started swimming when she was seven years old. Her family had gone on a holiday to Australia and Abby was frustrated when she couldn’t participate, so inspired by her brother, Fraser, she took up swimming. Like Libby Clegg, Abby has Stargardt’s, a deteriorating eye condition. At the 2016 British Para-Swimming International Meet, she lowered the British record in the 100m backstroke S13. Twice. Oh, and she was 12 at the time. Now, aged 13, she came 6th in the 400m freestyle. No big deal.
Oh wait – HUGE DEAL. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Paralympic Sheroes! We’re counting down the days until we see you in 2020.