Experienced athletes like Chinese Hongzhuan Zhou, who has dominated the T53 track class for more than a decade, and Cuban multi-medalist Omara Durand, who once won a gold medal at Tokyo 2020, will once again be on stage on Day 9 of the Games.
On the other hand, it will be time to see newcomers like the Hungarian Peter Pal Kiss, 18, who won the KL1 Canoe World Championships two years ago when he was only 16 years old.
Other new stars, but at the Games, will be the participants in para taekwondo, who will be at their first Paralympic Games. Frenchman Lucas Mazur won the 2019 World Championships in her SL4 class and is one of the favorites, while Indonesian Leani Ratri Oktila was crowned Para-badminton player of 2019 and won 12 gold medals this season.
Joackim Norberg (SWE) – filming
The Swede exploded onto the international stage at the 2014 World Championships with a double victory in P3 (25m SH1 mixed pistol) and P5 (10m SH1 mixed pistol) in just his second year of competitive shooting. His greatest career achievement came when he won silver in P3 at Rio 2016. The nicknamed “hot shot” athlete has remained a constant threat on the podium in the pistol discipline.
Vitor Gonçalves Tavares (BRA) – para badminton
Known as “Vitinho”, the 22-year-old played football and mountain biking before learning para-badminton at 17. After winning the first tournament he participated in, he decided to focus solely on sports. Since then, her main achievements have been gold at the 2019 Para PanAm in Lima and third place in the SS6 singles, doubles and mixed doubles events at the 2019 World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. His dream is to win a gold medal at the SH6 tournament in Tokyo.
Lucas Mazur (FRA) – para badminton
Mazur strengthened his grip on first place in the men’s SL4 world rankings, after winning gold at the 2019 Basel World Championships. It was a bittersweet victory, as his Indian opponent Tarun Tarun retired after s’ be twisted the knee. The two have been back and forth from a Worlds showdown in 2015, when Mazur won silver. But now the Frenchman has the momentum and will be ready for his toughest test yet at Tokyo 2020.
Leani Ratri Oktila (INA) – para badminton
Crowned 2019 World Badminton Federation para-badminton player, Leani Ratri Oktila will be one of the favorites for Tokyo 2020. She won her first SL4 women’s singles world title in 2019, in a season that l ‘saw him win 12 gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Few would bet against her adding to her impressive medal tally in Japan.
Curtis McGrath (AUS) – paracanoe
Having lost both of his legs to an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in the Australian Army in Afghanistan in 2004, McGrath told his comrades he would one day be at the Paralympic Games. Fast forward to Rio 2016 and not only did he compete, but he won gold in the men’s KL2. He’s also undefeated in the World Championship since 2016 with four titles. And with Tokyo in his sights, he will be looking to defend his KL2 title and win gold in the newly added VL3, which he has proven by winning five world titles.
Peter Pal Kiss (HUN) – para canoe
At only 16, the Hungarian surprised Italian world champion Esteban Farias by winning men’s gold in KL1 in front of his home crowd at the 2019 Szegad World Championships. Now 18, Kiss is the most recent talent. and the most anticipated in sport before Tokyo, where he will be the golden favorite. But Kiss has only played three ICF events in his career and will have to deal with the new pressure that awaits him in Tokyo.
Emma Wiggs (GBR) – paracanoe
Tokyo 2020 will be Wiggs’ third Paralympic Games. She competed in sitting volleyball in London 2012, before switching to paracanoe at Rio 2016 to win gold in the women’s KL2. Wiggs was unmatched in kayaking until 2018, when compatriot Charlotte Henshaw served the booty at the World Championships. But Wiggs has turned her attention to the va’a boats, where she is a three-time world champion and has the best chance of winning Paralympic gold.
Bolor-Erdene Ganbat (MGL) – para taekwondo
Few athletes rise to the occasion like Mongolia’s No.1 Ganbat (pictured under kicks). In fact, there was a time when the quadruple world champion was considered unbeatable. That all changed when he was shocked in the final of the IWAS 2017 World Games by Russian Daniil Sidorov in the men’s -61 kg K44. He has only won half of his tournaments since – although he has never failed to reach the podium – developing fierce rivalries with the dynamic Turkish duo of Mahmut Bozteke and Ali Can Ozcan. Ganbat beat Ozcan at the 2019 World Championships on the way to his fourth consecutive title in what is widely regarded as “the greatest fight in para taekwondo history”, before Ozcan stopped him at the Championships. Asia 2019 to deny him a fifth title. The inevitable Ganbat still has a lot to prove as he fell again at this summer’s Asian Championships, this time against Bozteke. Yet he remains one of the sport’s most technically gifted fighters and one of Mongolia’s main medal threats in Tokyo.
Angelica Espinoza Carranza (PER) – para taekwondo
There might not be a fighter on a hotter streak right now than Espinoza. At the Parapan Am Games at home in Lima 2019, she gave the hosts one of the lasting memories of the event as she won gold in the Women’s -49kg K44. She continues to show her Paralympic good faith by beating some of the top athletes in the division on her way to winning five of her last six tournaments, including denying former world champion Enkhtuya Khurelbaatar of Mongolia a fifth straight Asian title with a convincing 28-4 victory at the 2021 Asian Open Championships.
Omara Durand (CUB) – Athletics
With five Paralympic titles and 11 world titles to his name, Durand has dominated the slopes since his international debut over a decade ago. The Cuban currently holds the world records in the 100m (11.40), 200m (23.03) and 400m (51.77) T12, making her the fastest Paralympian in the world. Her last loss came at the 2008 Beijing Games and is again a big favorite to extend her winning streak in Tokyo.
Hongzhuan Zhou (CHN) – Athletics
A sports legend having dominated the T53 class for more than a decade, the Chinese woman aims to end her career on a high at the 2020 Paralympic Games. Over a distinguished career, Hongzhuan has amassed 11 Paralympic medals, including six gold , and seven world titles in the sprint and middle distance races. However, the 32-year-old realizes she has to give her best in Tokyo after being passed by younger athletes to the finish line of the 2019 World Championships, finishing the competition with “only” two silver medals and one bronze.