Five to watch at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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Tokyo:

The Tokyo Paralympics are set to begin on Tuesday after a year-long epidemic delay.

Here, AFP Sport selects five athletes who hope to make an impact:

Reham, a three-time Paralympic champion known as “Blade Jumper”, plans to push the boundaries further after breaking the T64 long jump world record in June.

The German, who turned 33 on Sunday, jumped 8.62m at the European Championships in Poland – beating the previous record by a full 14cm.

The jump would have been enough to win a gold medal at every Olympics since 1992, and was only 33 centimeters short of Mike Powell’s world record for the disabled.

Reham has spoken of his desire to compete in the Olympics, but is currently focusing on adding more Paralympic gold to his collection in Tokyo.

“I try to be the best long jumper in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if I wear an artificial leg or if I have two legs. I only do what I can, and I just try to be the best I can be.”

Wheelchair fancier view is a sports icon in his native Italy, where he is a regular guest at Milan Fashion Week and has over a million followers on Instagram.

The 24-year-old, known as “Baby”, began fencing at the age of five, but had both legs and arms amputated when he contracted meningitis at the age of 11.

She turned her attention to wheelchair fencing – becoming the first competitive fence without arms or legs – and claimed gold and bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

But she has not been able to compete for two years because epidemics have closed the tournament, and she admits she is “scared” as she prepares to return to Tokyo.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen this time, but I’m glad to be here,” he said.

“I miss him so much. I miss the vibe of the competition.”

Wheelchair race legend McFadden already has 17 Paralympic medals, which he is now targeting more in preparation for his fifth Summer Games.

McFadden, who was born in Russia and raised in an orphanage until she was adopted at the age of six, also competed in cross-country skiing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

But its impact is not limited to the race track – it is also a campaign for equal rights, which has welcomed the US team’s decision to award Olympic medalists the equivalent of an Olympic prize.

McFadden developed a blood clot in 2017 that left her fearful of ending her career, but she is back for another game and plans to succeed more.

“I’ve come a long way and I’m finally regaining speed and hitting a speed I’ve never hit before,” he told Forbes.

“I’ve changed a lot – it’s a new body, I’m new, a new mindset. I’ve definitely become stronger. I’m really going to enjoy these games.”

Conida, one of the world’s most decorated wheelchair tennis players, is a household name in her native Japan.

Spinal cord tumor was diagnosed when he was nine years old. He has won three Paralympic gold and two bronze medals, as well as more than 100 career titles – singles and doubles.

He became the first wheelchair tennis player to win consecutive men’s Paralympic singles titles with victories in 2008 and 2012.

But an elbow injury hampered Canada’s chances of winning a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games, and she is more determined than ever to regain the Paralympic title at home.

“Winning a gold medal in Tokyo is the biggest goal,” he told the International Tennis Federation magazine.

“Although I have won three Paralympic medals in the past, gold in Tokyo will be very special and very important to me.”

Ugandan swimmer Kokandakoi could be one of the faces at the Tokyo Paralympics when she competes at just 14 years old.

Kokandakwe, who was born without her right arm and has a defect in her left arm, aims to change attitudes in her home country, where she says people with disabilities are “not considered normal.”

She says swimming has given her confidence, which allows her to dig into the baggy sweater she wears to cover her arms and hands.

She now plans to become the youngest athlete in the Games after qualifying for the women’s 100m breaststroke.

“I don’t expect much from swimming in the Paralympic Games because this is my first time,” he said.

“It’s just an opportunity to come here and show other young people who want to take part in the Paralympics that they just have to go for it and do what they have to do.”





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