The paracanoe athletes were there to prove that they had come a long way since the sport made its debut at Rio 2016. There were some remarkable performances at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games that would do a world of good for the sport. in general.
SEALED WITH A KISS
Hungarian Peter Pal Kiss, 18, became the youngest Paralympic para-canoe gold medalist, and the first teenager to triumph, in the men’s KL1.
Kiss broke his personal best to finish more than two seconds ahead of Brazil Luis Carlos Cardoso de Silva, with a French Remy Boulle third.
CURTIS MCGRATH CREATES HISTORY
Australia’s Curtis McGrath celebrated two gold medals in 24 hours in Tokyo, becoming the first paracanoe athlete to win a double gold at a single Paralympic Games.
His first victory came with the defense of the KL2 title he won in the sport’s debut at Rio 2016. The Australian then took on a new challenge, taking victory in the debut of the men’s VL3. This is the boat where it all started for the 33-year-old in 2014, two years after losing his legs on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan.
STEEL COWBOY RIDE TO THE FIRST GOLD OF THE COUNTRY
Former bull rodeo rider Rufino de Paulo returned to the water in Tokyo after missing his chance to go for home gold in Rio 2016.
The man they call “The Steel Cowboy” retired five years ago due to a health problem, but took victory in Tokyo in the men’s VL2.
De Paulo claims to have had over 80 accidents in his life, not all of them rodeo-related. The Brazilian told a stunned media outlet that he had fallen off a bus and then had been run over, had his head stomped on by an ox, had been struck by lightning and had even had an elevator hit him.
This time, however, Brazil’s first gold medal in paracanoe was no accident.
GREAT BRITAIN CAPITALIZES ON CROSS COMPETITORS
Great Britain repeated their top-level performance from Rio 2016, finishing the para-canoe competition as the most successful nation with three gold, one silver and three bronze.
Former swimmer and Paralympic medalist Charlotte Henshaw had never sat in a kayak before Rio 2016, but took victory in the women’s KL2 with an outright victory.
Laura Sugar started para-canoeing even later, switching from athletics in 2018. The 12-month delay in Tokyo gave her an extra year to learn the sport, and in Tokyo, she won the third medal of Great Britain’s gold by triumphing in the women’s KL3.
And five years ago, Emma Wiggs made history by winning a gold medal in the Para canoe debut at the Paralympic Games. At Tokyo 2020, she carved her name in the record books again, this time winning the first-ever women’s va’a gold medal.
EDINA MUELLER GIVES FALSE TO DOUBTS
Germany’s Edina Mueller overcame much more than the pandemic by heading for Germany’s first overall gold medal in paracanoe in the women’s KL1.
The Rio 2016 silver medalist arrived in Tokyo after taking the time to have a baby. During an interview, the 38-year-old said she overheard some people say they didn’t think she would come back and that if she did, she wouldn’t be a candidate for a medal.
Mueller admits arriving at Tokyo 2020 feeling that a silver medal was her best hope. Those thoughts quickly evaporated when the German beat reigning Ukrainian world champion Maryna Mazhula in her race.
This is Mueller’s second gold medal, won with his country’s wheelchair basketball team in London 2012, and his third Paralympic Games.