05 Sep 2021, 10:55

Marathon golds decided as 'most important' Paralympics wrap up

TOKYO, Sept 5, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Swiss wheelchair master Marcel Hug defended

his marathon title on the final day of the Tokyo Paralympics on Sunday, as
organisers hailed the "most important edition" of the Games ever.

  The last day's action saw 14 gold medals up for grabs, starting with the
early morning marathon events and another star turn from "silver bullet" Hug.

  The 2016 Rio T54 champion opened up an early gap on the field, and moved
away from silver medallist Zhang Yong over the last two uphill kilometres.

  "I don't know how to feel. I'm just tired. Empty," said Hug, who won the
sixth Paralympic gold of his career in a time of 1hr 24min 2sec.

  In the women's T54 marathon, Australian Madison de Rozario clung on to
finish ahead of Swiss great Manuela Schaer, winning the gold by just one

  "That was the longest 500 metres of my life," de Rozario told reporters
after finishing in a Paralympic record of 1:38.11.

  "That finish line couldn't have come quick enough."

  The 27-year-old was adding a second gold to her T53 800m title in Tokyo.
She also took bronze in the T54 1,500m.

  There was also gold for host nation Japan in the women's T12 marathon, with
Misato Michishita coming home in a time of 3:00.50.

  Morocco's El Amin Chentouf won the men's T12 marathon, while China's Li
Chaoyan took the honours in the men's T46.

  Organisers had urged local residents to stay home and watch the action on
TV, but sweet shop owner Atsushi Nishimura told AFP in Tokyo's Asakusa
district that he was glad he saw it live.

  "We could have enjoyed the Olympics and Paralympics differently if they
weren't during a pandemic, but I think it was good for us that we could host
the events," he said.

  - 'Stronger than ever' -

  With the Games almost at a close, International Paralympic Committee chief
Andrew Parsons declared the Tokyo Paralympics the "most important edition" in

  He pointed to the participation of 163 delegations -- one less than the
London 2012 record -- with 86 teams winning medals and 62 claiming at least
one gold. "I don't have any doubts that this was the most important edition
of the Paralympic Games, because of the pandemic, because we gave a voice to
1.2 billion persons with disability," he said.

  "The Paralympic movement is stronger than ever before," he added.

  The delegations included two athletes from Afghanistan, who made a dramatic
arrival with the Games already in progress after being evacuated from Kabul.

  IPC spokesman Craig Spence said taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and
sprinter Hossain Rasouli, who competed in long jump, had been offered the
chance to carry Afghanistan's flag at the closing ceremony.

  But there was still plenty of sporting action to get through, with medals
decided in four other sports.

  The United States beat China 3-1 to take gold in women's sitting
volleyball, with the two teams meeting in the final for the fourth straight

  The Americans had ended China's run of three consecutive golds five years
ago in Rio, and they got the upper hand again after establishing an early
two-set lead.

  Japan were set to take on the United States in the men's wheelchair
basketball final later in the day.

  In shooting, Slovakian Veronika Vadovicova won the mixed 50m rifle prone
SH1 final, edging out Sweden's Anna Normann and Spain's Juan Antonio Saavedra

  There were also finals in badminton, which was making its Paralympic debut
in Tokyo.

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