If you thought the recently completed Rio Olympics were exciting, wait until you see what’s in store for you beginning September 7, 2016. Today marks the start of the Paralympic Games in Rio. The Games will run through September 18, 2016 and will include 289 U.S. athletes.
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the U.S. claimed a total of 98 medals, finishing fourth in the medal count. Among the members of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team are 14 reigning Paralympic champions, and 18 athletes who won multiple medals in London, including swimmer Jessica Long (five gold, two silver, one bronze) and Tatyana McFadden (three gold, one bronze).
The team also includes over 30 military veterans and active duty service members, some of whom were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be the largest edition of the Games yet, with an estimated 4,350 participating athletes. Athletes from more than 176 countries will compete in 528 medal events in Rio.
The media coverage for the 2012 London Games was the most we ever saw for the Paralympic Games, and we hope to see even more during the next two weeks. With the help of Team USA, below are some highlights that should help as you watch an amazing display of athleticism.
- Cyclist Allison Jones has the most Games experience with this being her eighth Paralympic Games, goalball athlete Jen Armbruster is making her seventh Games appearance, and six athletes are competing in their fifth Games. In total, 125 athletes have prior Games experience, while 142 are making their Paralympic debut.
- Swimmer Jessica Long is the most decorated athlete with 17 Paralympic medals, withTatyana McFadden owning 11 medals. In total, there are 69 Paralympic medalists on the team.
- There are 30 military athletes on the team, three continue to serve on active duty in the U.S. Army: shooter John Joss, swimmer Elizabeth Marks and archer Michael Lukow. The Army has the largest representation with 20 athletes, with six athletes having served in the Marine Corps, three in the Navy and one in the Air Force. Triathlete Krige Schabort served in the South African Army.
- Team USA’s athletes call 43 states and Washington, D.C. home. California has the most representation with 29 athletes, while Michigan and Washington are tied for the second-most represented states with 14 athletes.
- In the track & field competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the United States will be represented by 66 athletes, including four guide athletes, making it the largest sport delegation for Team USA.
- Grace Norman and Allysa Seely will pull double duty as they compete in both paratriathlon and track & field.
- Oksana Masters and Alana Nichols are both competing in their third Paralympic sport in Rio. Masters is competing in cycling after previously medaling in rowing and Nordic skiing, while Nichols will make her paracanoe debut after winning gold in wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing.
Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, team history and links to competition schedules. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.