Friday, August 20, 2021

2020 Summper Paralympic Games - Part 2

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will be held from August 24 – September 5, 2021. These events will feature six broad Paralympics categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, vision impairment, and “other."
For a list of the 22 Paralympic sports featured this year, check out part one of this blog post. Competitors will use racing wheelchairs for events that traditionally involve “running,” including the wheelchair division for athletes competing in athletics and triathlon. For para-cycling, there are divisions that use custom, adaptive cycles. These competitions are reserved for competitors who are either unable to use their legs, or who experience lower limb loss. There are a few other sports that require sport-specific wheelchairs, including: wheelchair basketball, tennis, fencing, and rugby.

Athletes use different kinds of sport-specific wheelchairs and hand cycles, depending on the sport. These include:

  • Racing wheelchairs are used for track and marathon competitions, as well as the “running” portion of the triathlon.

  • Custom arm-powered handcycles are used for both the para-cycling event, and the cycling portion of the triathlon. There are two designs, recumbent and kneeling, which are designed to maximize the different abilities of each athlete.

  • Fencing wheelchairs are locked into place and have certain armrest requirements. Competitors wear the same safety equipment as Olympic fencers, and use the same electronic scoring system. And based on their functional ability, athletes compete in either Category A or B.

  • Tennis wheelchairs have a lot of maneuverability, which means that they’re quick, and that they can turn fast. These design choices are important for the athletes to get to the ball as quickly as possible, while propelling and holding a tennis racket at the same time!

  • Basketball wheelchairs are also built for speed. Since it is a team sport, players must be able to maneuver in tight areas, especially near the basket.

  • Rugby wheelchairs are built for wheelchair-to-wheelchair contact. Depending on the athletes’ classification, and whether they play offense or defense, the wheelchair designs can differ.

  • Customization: Whether it is for an individual sport competition, or for a team-based sport, each wheelchair is custom-built to maximize athletic performance and physical ability.

About the sports:

Track (Athletics): Athletes will be competing in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m on the track, and also be running the marathon. Click here for the full schedule.

: These athletes are divided into separate categories: visually impaired, upper and lower limb loss, coordination deficits, and those with lower extremity, leg paralysis, or limb loss.

    Cyclists with visual impairment race on tandem cycles, with a sighted cycler seated in front.

    Athletes, who can use a “standard” bicycle, compete in five sport classes: C1-C5. The lower the class number, the more the athlete experiences mobility limitations in their lower and/or upper limbs.

    Tricycle athletes are divided into two classes, T1 and T2. The lower the class number, the more the athletes experience significant coordination impairments. 

    Handcycling has five classifications: H1-5, where lower numbers indicate restrictions in both upper and lower limbs, and higher numbers indicate restrictions only in lower limbs. Hand cycles. used in the H1-4 divisions, feature a reclining or lay-down position. H5 athletes use a handcycle in the kneeling position because they have less impairment and have more trunk musculature.

Wheelchair Tennis: Wheelchair tennis has an Open Men’s Division, Open Women’s Division and a Quad Division. They play singles and doubles matches, which follow the same rules as stand-up tennis. However, players get two bounces to return the ball, instead of one.

Wheelchair basketball: Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced game, played by teams of five players. Like stand-up basketball, the object is to shoot the ball into the opposing team’s basket.

In addition to the five players on the court, each team also has seven substitutes. The match takes place over four periods, which are ten minutes long.  Players are assigned points as their classification, ranging from 1-4. There are also 0.5 classes for “exceptional” cases, reserved for athletes who don’t easily fit into one class. The 4.5 category is reserved for players with the least amount of limitations. Classification is based on the players’ ability to perform certain actions that are required to play the sport, such as: pushing, pivoting, shooting, rebounding, dribbling, passing, and catching.

The points system was designed to keep this competition fair and balanced. At any time, 14.0 is the maximum number of total points that is allowed on court. This number includes the total number points of all five, active players, combined. If a coach allows the team to have over 14.0 points, that team will incur a technical foul on the bench.

Wheelchair rugby: Wheelchair rugby is similar to wheelchair basketball because it also uses a point system. The sport was originally named murderball, but is now called quad rugby in the United States. This name is based on a requirement: all wheelchair rugby players must have disabilities that include some loss of function, in at least three limbs. Although most players have spinal cord injuries, players can play if they have multiple amputations, neurological disorders, or other medical conditions. Players are assigned a functional level in points, and each team’s total can’t be higher than eight points.

Wheelchair rugby is played indoors on a hardwood court, and physical contact between wheelchairs is an integral part of the game. The rules include elements from wheelchair basketball, ice hockey, handball, and rugby union.

Where to watch?

The schedule:

NBC Universal will air a record 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage from the Tokyo Games, including the first NBC primetime broadcasts in history. Coverage presented by Toyota includes more than 200 TV hours between NBC, NBCSN, and the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. It’ll also be streamed on Peacock, as well as NBC Sports digital platforms, totaling more than 1,000 hours.

NBC’s primetime coverage will feature top stories and moments from competition, plus athlete profiles and interviews with a focus on Team USA.

NBCSN airs the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony live, plus daily coverage from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. ET from Tokyo, which will be 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time.

The Olympic Channel will show live coverage, and will also air extensive replays., the NBC Sports app, and Peacock will live stream all TV coverage. and the NBC Sports app will also show: archery, badminton, boccia, canoe, cycling, equestrian, goalball, judo, marathons, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, soccer, swimming, table tennis, track and field, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

Peacock will air medal round competition, including men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, and women’s sitting volleyball. These events, as well as wheelchair rugby and marathon races, were won by the U.S. in Rio in 2016.

Team USA

Track and Field:

17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden is on the hunt to qualify for her sixth Paralympic Games. Currently, she holds the record for most track and field gold medals by an American woman, both Olympic and Paralympic. On the men's side, look for Aaron Pike and Josh George! Click here to learn more.

Para Cycling:

Among the six athletes going to Tokyo, five of the U.S. Paralympians are returning from the previous competition. 

Will Groulx (MH2) goes into Tokyo with four Paralympics under his belt. Though he competed in wheelchair rugby for his first three appearances, he won the road race in 2016. Not to mention that he also placed 2nd in the time trial and team relay.

Alicia Dana (WH3) also returned from Rio with some hardware, winning a silver medal in the time trial. She upgraded that to a gold medal from the most recent world championships, in 2019, where she also took second in the road race. Tokyo will be the third Paralympics for the 52-year-old.

After a dominating performance at the Team USA trials in June, Army veteran Tom Davis (MH4) is heading back to the Paralympics. He boasts the top time of any athlete, relative to their respective Tokyo qualification standard.

Four years ago in Rio, Oksana Masters (WH5) fell just short of the podium, finishing fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial. The multi-sport star, who has won a combined eight Paralympic medals as a rower and Nordic skier will now have her opportunity to add to that in Tokyo.

After finishing fourth in the road race in Rio, Freddy de los Santos (MH5-kneeling division) is headed back to the Paralympics with something to prove. De los Santos joined the Army after 9/11, losing his leg and sustaining a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle was attacked in Afghanistan. After struggling with depression and substance abuse, he discovered Para-cycling and now, at age 51, is headed to his second Paralympics.

Tokyo will be the first Paralympic games for para cyclist Ryan Pinney (MH3). After a pair of wins at April’s U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open, and his first world cup medal at a May event in Belgium, you could say that he’s coming in hot. Pinney is known for his flashy hand cycle, painted magenta and grey. It also features the initials of his daughter Addison’s, among other decorations. For more information on the U.S. team's cyclers, click here.

Wheelchair Tennis:

David Wagner, a four-time Paralympian and eight-time Paralympic medalist, has been one of the top names in the sport for close to 20 years. Wagner has earned a medal in singles and doubles events in the quad division, at each of his last four Paralympic Games. Click here for more info.

Wagner will team up again with Nick Taylor, his doubles partner for the last four Games. Because he can’t propel a manual tennis wheelchair, Nick competes in a power wheelchair. In fact, he’s the only power wheelchair athlete in the sport. Each of these quad athletes secures their tennis rackets to their arms by using a special kind of tape.

Wheelchair Basketball:

The U.S. mens and womens teams travel to Tokyo as the defending gold medalists from Rio. In the mens quest for Paralympic gold, key players will include returning gold medalists Steve Serio, Matt Scott, Jake Williams and Josh Turek. Click here to learn more.

Trooper Johnson, the U.S. womens national team head coach, believes this years team is one of the strongest squads ever. The USA’s women’s team for wheelchair basketball will include first-time Paralympians Rose Hollermann and Abby Dunkin. Both have had time to develop and mesh with veteran players like Becca Murray and Natalie Schneider. Click here to meet the members of the U.S. Women's Basketball Team.

Paul Schulte will be a featured commentator for wheelchair basketball. He played in multiple competitions for the USA’s Paralympic men's wheelchair basketball team, and now lives in our home state of Florida.

Wheelchair rugby: The U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team has just one thing to focus on: Getting back on top of the medal stand.Team USA has the most wheelchair rugby gold medals since the sports Paralympic debut in 1996, but is seeking its first championship since the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008. Click here to meet the team.

Athlete highlights: click here to find your favorite athletes

Detailed Classification information for track and field:

You may be wondering: what do all of the letters and numbers mean in track and field?

Classes are given a number. Each number is prefixed with either a T, which stands for track, or an Ffor field.

  Impairments are split into groups. For example, visually impaired athletes are in the tens (T11, T12 and T13), and athletes with coordination impairments are in the thirties (T31-38).

  These numbers also represent every athlete’s level of impairment. The lower the number is within each impairment type, the more severe the impairment.

Running and jumping (16 classes)

  T11-13 (Visual impairment)

  T20 (Intellectual impairment)

  T35-38 (Co-ordination impairments)

  T40-41 (Short stature)

  T42-44 (Lower limb affected by limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement)

  T45-47 (Upper limbs affected by limb deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement)

Wheelchair racing and field events (7 classes): ’T, which stands for track, or an Ffor field.

  T-34 (Co-ordination impairments)

  T51-54 (Limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power, or impaired range of movement)

Field Standing throws (15 classes)

  F11-13 (Visual impairment)

  F20 (Intellectual impairment)

  F35-38 (Coordination impairments)

  F40-41 (Short stature)

  F42-44 (Lower limb(s) deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power, or impaired range of motion)

  F45-46 (Upper limb(s) deficiency, impaired muscle power, or impaired range of motion

Field Seated throws (11 classes)

  F31-34 (Coordination impairments)

  F51-57 (Limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power, or impaired range of motion)

Mary Carol Peterson

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

2020 Summer Paralympic Games


Did you know that the word “Paralympic” is derived from the Greek preposition “para,” meaning “beside” or “alongside?” The Paralympics take place alongside, or parallel to, the prestigious Olympic games. There are six broad Paralympics categories, based on diagnosis, including: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, vision impairment, and "others."


Athletes are competing in the following summer sports, which will be located at different venues in and around Tokyo, Japan: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Boccia, Canoe, Cycling, Equestrian, Football 5-a-side, Goalball, Judo, Powerlifting, Rowing, Shooting Para sport, Sitting volleyball, Swimming, Table tennis, Taekwondo, Triathlon, Wheelchair basketball, Wheelchair fencing, Wheelchair rugby, and Wheelchair tennis.


August 24 – September 5, 2021


4,400 athletes are expected to compete, hailing from roughly 170 countries, with a total of 539 medals on the line. This year's Paralympic Games will set a participation record for the event. Because so many athletes have signed up, it shows that Japan's government and the International Paralympic Committee are accepting of diversity and inclusion.

How Many?

A total of 22 sports are on the schedule for this year’s Paralympic games, featuring the debut of Badminton and Taekwondo.

Where To Watch?

NBCUniversal will air a record 1,200 hours of coverage from the Tokyo Paralympic Games, including the first NBC primetime broadcasts in history. Presented by Toyota, it will air for more than 200 TV hours across NBC, NBCSN, and the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. Debut streaming coverage will happen on Peacock, and comprehensive live streaming on NBC Sports digital platforms such as the NBC Sports app. Across these platforms, coverage of every event will total more than 1,000 hours. And if you’re worried that your favorite event isn’t televised, try watching on one of the aforementioned streaming services.

NBC’s primetime coverage will feature top stories and moments from the competition. You can also look forward to individual profiles, and interviews with Team USA athletes.

NBCSN airs the Opening and Closing Ceremonies live. The station features daily content from Tokyo, during the local time of 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Keep in mind that, in Florida (Eastern Standard Time), we are 13 hours ahead of Japan Standard Time. To accommodate those of us in the U.S., the Paralympic Games are both airing live, and are being replayed.

Peacock will stream medal round competition, including men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, and women’s sitting volleyball. In Particular, the U.S. won these events in the 2016 Paralympic games hosted in Rio. Click here to learn more from NBC Sports PR.

What Is Classification?

For those who might not know, Paralympic athletes are grouped together, based on their physical abilities. These classifications are used to decide where individual athletes are eligible to compete for each sport. By grouping athletes into classes, based on their ability to perform certain activities, these classifications aim to create a level playing field across teams.

What Is The History Of The Paralympics?

In 1944, at the request of the British Government, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain. Patients of this institution engaged in what was called “rehabilitation sport,” which helped to improve their physical and mental health. In time, these rehabilitation sports evolved to recreational sports, before finally becoming competitive in nature. On 29 July 1948, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games, Dr. Guttmann organised the first competition for wheelchair athletes. He named this event the “Stoke Mandeville Games,” which were a milestone in Paralympic history. They involved 16 injured servicemen and women, who competed in archery. The Stoke Mandeville Games eventually turned into the Paralympic Games, which first took place in 1960, in Rome, Italy. This competition featured 400 athletes, who hailed from 23 countries. Since then, they’ve been held every fourth year.

Who Is The Paralympic Mascot?

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic mascot's name is Someity. Pronounced “soh-may-tee,” it comes from someiyoshino, a popular cherry blossom variety. Additionally, it echoes the English phrase, “so mighty.”

Are The Paralympic Medals Different Than Their Olympic Counterparts?

For the first time in Paralympic history, a series of circular indentations were made on the side of each medal. This choice was made for competitors with visual impairments, and was designed so that individuals can recognize these medals by touch. One indentation represents gold, two indentations distinguish silver, and three indentations identify bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on the medals’ faces.

The medals were manufactured from recycled, precious metals. This unique material was extracted from mobile phones, as well as other small electronic devices, which werew donated by the public.

The medal ribbons, which are decorated in the Games’ colors of indigo and crimson, employ traditional Japanese design motifs of harmonized checkered emblems (kumiichi matsumon). This design expresses both the festive spirit of the Games, and the principle of “Unity Diversity.”

What About The Torch?

“Share Your Light'' is one of the major themes behind the Paralympic Games. Uniting tradition and modern technology, the shape of the torch resembles that of a traditional, Japanese “Sakuramon'' cherry blossom emblem. Someity, the aforementioned Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games mascot, and its design are also based on the cherry blossom. It was shaped into its current form from the aluminium extrusion technology, which was used in the manufacture of Shinkansen bullet trains. It forms a seamless, single piece, in a form that symbolizes the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay. Continuing with the theme, it was created by fusing Japanese tradition and modern technology.

What Is The Meaning Behind The Torch And Japan’s Overall Message?

The manufacturing of the torch embodies the spirit of recovery, and consideration for sustainability. Aluminium construction waste was used to create the torch, which came from the temporary housing built in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This process transformed this destruction into a symbol of peace, and will convey the extent to which the affected areas are recovering, one piece at a time.


When Is the Paralympic Torch Relay?

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Torch Relay will take place between August 13-25, during the transition period between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. It will be separated into three parts:

Part 1: Flame Festivals

A Heritage Flame Celebration will be held in Great Britain’s Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. Flame-lighting festivals will take place at several locations across Japan, between August 13-17.

Part 2: Paralympic Torch Relay

In addition to the flame-lighting festival and flame visits, torch relays will be held in these three prefectures, each hosting Paralympic events. Teams of three torchbearers will transport the flame, boosting public interest and support, ahead of the Paralympic Games.

Part 3: Nationwide relays arrive in Tokyo

The flames from each lighting festival, as well as the torch relays, will be brought together in Tokyo on August 21. Here, the official Paralympic Flame will be lit. The final four days of the Paralympic Torch Relay will then commence in Tokyo.

More Info

Mary Carol Peterson

Edited by:
Kyle Romano

2020 Summper Paralympic Games - Part 2

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will be held from August 24 – September 5, 2021. These events will feature six broad Paralympics categories: ampu...