The paralympic games are an international multi-sport event for athletes with a wide range of disabilities and a wider range of capabilities.
In the firsts Olympic games, athletes with disabilities competed with all athletes. The first woman disabled athlete to compete in the Olympics was Lis Hartel, a Danish equestrian who competed in 1943 and won a silver medal.
In 1948, the first paralympic sport event took place alongside the London Olympic games. Only British World War II veterans competed. 4 years later, in London, the competition was held between international groups. In 1960 it was open for different disability groups and not only war veterans. The event keeps evolving and upgrading with time.
Tokyo 2020 paralympic games will take place from August 25th till September 5th.
The USA team for Tokyo 2020 has almost the same number of female and male athletes (something that the USA team for the Olympics should look up to).
Here are some of the amazing women who might come back home with a medal:
McKenzie Coan, Swim
Coan is coming to Tokyo as a rockstar. It is her third Paralympic event for Coan, who already won 3 gold medals and a silver one in Rio 2016. She participated and won in several international and national championships, setting some new records in her swimming category along the way. Currently, she is ranked at the top of her category in freestyle.
Coan has the connective tissue disorder “Osteogenesis imperfecta,” brittle bones, which caused her to break more than 50 bones in her lifetime. She started swimming as a child, following her brothers, and did not stop since.
After retiring from swimming, she plans to go to law school and even run for office.
Breanna Clark, Track
Rio 2016 gold medalist and the 2019 world championship are the recent accomplishments of Clark, and hopefully, her next one will be a medal in Tokyo 2020.
Clark was born in 1994 and raised in LA. Her mother and her coach, Rosalyn Clark, won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics games in Montreal. She was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 and was the first female US athlete with an intellectual disability to win a Paralympic medal.
Her idol is the US tennis legendary player Serena Williams.
Brianna Salinaro, Taekwondo
Salinaro (b. 1998) is the first female athlete representing the USA in Para-Taekwondo and the only competitor with Cerebral Palsy, the cause of been born two and a half months premature. In her first years, she struggled walking and did a lot of physical therapy. She started practicing Taekwondo when she was in 5th grade and competing professionally in Para-Taekwondo in 2016. She already won several national and international titles and always dreamt of being part of the USA team. In the past four years, she worked the hardest she could to get qualified for the games, and she has a great chance to win a medal.
Shawn Morelli, Cycling
With 2 gold medals from Rio 2016, Morelli (b.1976) works hard for Tokyo 2020.
Morelli served in the US Army in Afghanistan and got injured in 2007 from a bomb blast, it left her with neck and nerve damage, and she lost her left eyesight. Three years later, she found her new destiny in competitive cycling.
Since then, she is competing in para-cycling track and field and has won several national and international world championships.
She is also a school football coach and mentor.
Melissa Stockwell, Paratriathlon
Stockwell (b. 1980) is a war veteran and the first female soldier to lose a limb in the Iraq War. In 2004, Her HUMVEE got hit by a roadside bomb, and she had to go through leg amputation above the knee. After a year of rehab, and since she was always an athlete, she decided to dedicate her life to competitive sports.
Stockwell participated in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in 3 swimming events and then turned to focus on Paratriathlon, representing the USA in international competitions, becoming the top of the TRI-2 class.
In Rio 2016, she won a bronze medal.
She is also a motivational speaker, the co-founder of the Chicago-based Dare2tri Paratriathlon club, owns a prosthetics company with her husband in Colorado Springs, a level 1 triathlon coach, and a mother of two.