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    Ready, Set, Tokyo

    A few days to go until what could be the most inspirational Paralympic Games, let’s take a look at what to expect…

    After a year of delays due to the pandemic, the Paralympic Games are now set to begin with the opening ceremony on Tuesday 24 August in Tokyo, Japan.

    The opening ceremony has traditionally celebrated the moment with excited spectators, but despite the strict Covid-19 restrictions not allowing for large-scale in-person gatherings there is still a lot of hype. Officials say the ceremony will “communicate to the world the goal of creating a coexistent society where everyone respects and helps each other” an important message of unity and hope in these difficult times.

    The ceremony will also give us a first glimpse at the Paralympians who will be representing Team GB. 51 athletes have travelled to Japan as part of the Team GB’s Paralympic team with the hope to try to top the medal table, having finished second behind China five years ago with their haul of 147 medals.

    The Paralympics accommodates many differently-abled athletes, including those with muscle power impairment, vision impairment, intellectual impairment, limb deficiency, short stature, and much more. These athletes will compete in 22 sports across a whopping 537 events.

    Who are some of the British athletes that could bring home the gold?

    Croydon’s 19-year-old Thomas Young, who runs 100m in 11.25s and 200m in 23.61s, is hoping to bring home gold after getting silver at the 2019 World Championships, edged out by the narrowest of margins by China’s Dening Zhu.

    British judoka, Elliot Stewart, who is currently ranked fifth in the world in the -90kg category, is set to make his exciting debut, at the home of judo, in Tokyo.

    Wheelchair basketball is again expected to be a huge draw and we are set to see an exciting duel with Great Britain and Team USA.

    The number of women competing has increased significantly, Powerlifting will make history with an equal number of female and male athletes competing. We will also see gender equality among technical officials, with the same number of men and women officiating.

    Currently holding the 50m record in three different strokes, two 100 m records and one 200 m record, British swimmer Alice Tai will be looking to make waves at Tokyo.

    We will also see Para badminton and Para taekwondo make their debuts and the return of relatively recent additions of shooting, canoeing and triathlon. Lauren Steadman was the heavy favourite for Para triathlon gold at Rio 2016, but an error in her swim cost her the victory, will the Brit get the gold this time around?

    There are many more British Para athletes doing us proud, shining examples for the global disabled community, and with an unprecedented number of people expected to watch the Paralympians compete this year, Tokyo 2020 is set to raise even more awareness of disability and Paralympians’ achievements.

    Channel 4 is taking over for the Paralympics coverage from August 25 to the final day of action on Sunday 5 September. You can read the schedule in full on the Olympics website.

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