A secret evacuation from Kabul, a brand new British file and a post-race proposal — there was no scarcity of memorable moments at Tokyo’s Paralympics, held after a year-long pandemic postponement.
As the Games draw to an in depth Sunday, AFP recaps a number of the tales that shall be remembered:
Afghan group escapes Kabul
Afghanistan’s swift fall to the Taliban final month left the nation’s two Paralympic athletes trapped, with no solution to depart Kabul and their goals of competing in Tokyo seemingly over.
At the opening ceremony, the Afghan flag was carried by a Japanese volunteer — however 4 days into the Games, officers introduced that Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli had made it to Japan.
Details of their evacuation through Paris had been saved secret, in what International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence described as a “major global operation”.
“Both athletes are here in Tokyo to fulfil their dreams, sending out a very strong message of hope to many others around the world,” Spence stated.
Khudadadi, 22, fought within the Paralympics’ first-ever taekwondo bout, whereas Rasouli, 26, took half in a protracted leap occasion, having missed the 100m dash he had educated for.
Fencing’s ‘Bebe’ defends title
Fencing icon Beatrice “Bebe” Vio, one of many world’s best-known Paralympians, defended her Rio gold in scintillating kind.
The 24-year-old, who had each forearms and legs amputated when she contracted meningitis aged 11, beat China’s Zhou Jingjing 15-9 to win Category B within the ladies’s particular person foil.
The Italian sensation is thought for her lightning pace and banshee cries on the piste, and was one in all 9 Paralympians featured within the acclaimed documentary “Rising Phoenix”.
And her ardour extends past the sector: she additionally works as a motivational speaker, creator, actor, TV host and incapacity campaigner.
It was Vio’s second gold at her second Games after she surprised agency favorite Zhou to win at Rio 2016 aged simply 19.
Team GB’s wheelchair rugby triumph
A shock gold medal for Britain’s wheelchair rugby gamers was the primary time a European group has triumphed on the Paralympics within the high-impact sport as soon as referred to as “murderball”.
They upset the percentages by beating the closely favoured US group 54-49 within the last, whereas Japan took bronze.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I think we’d be coming away with a Paralympic gold medal,” stated Britain’s Stuart Robinson.
“For the past four or five years we’ve been building towards something special.”
Jim Roberts, who scored 24 tries within the last to steer his aspect to victory, was requested how he would have fun. “I just hope someone’s got some beer somewhere,” he informed the UK’s Channel 4 tv.
Storey Pedals to Glory
In one other coup for Team GB, biking legend Sarah Storey grew to become Britain’s most profitable Paralympian along with her seventeenth gold medal, 29 years after her first.
The indomitable 43-year-old’s golden hat-trick in Tokyo dethroned swimmer Mike Kenny, who gained 16 golds between 1976 to 1988.
After her ladies’s C4-5 highway race victory in treacherous cool, moist and foggy situations, Storey stated she felt “a bit overwhelmed”.
“I feel like it is happening to someone else… but crossing the line first felt so good,” she stated.
“In that last descent I didn’t touch my brakes, I just went for it.”
In the soggy Olympic Stadium on Thursday, Cape Verde’s Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo didn’t qualify for the ladies’s T11 200m semifinals — however there was a shock comfort.
After the race, her information runner Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga acquired down on one knee and proposed.
Video of the magic second confirmed each athletes beaming as Semedo accepted.
Vaz de Veiga revealed afterwards that he’d been planning the proposal since his bride-to-be was chosen for the Cape Verde squad in July.
“I thought this was the best occasion and the best place to do it,” he stated.
And Semedo stated she had been contemplating retiring, however the proposal made her rethink.
“Now I have an additional motivation to carry on after the Games, always with him by my side.”