U.S. Comes in Fourth With 115 Medals
The 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil started off the opening ceremonies Sept. 7 with athletes from 159 countries, and two refugees from Syria and Iran, parading into the 78,000 seat Maracanã Stadium which was close to full with spectators cheering them on. The Russian team was banned from competition due to anti-doping violations.
Although there were concerns of low ticket sales many of the events were sold out. Brazilian culture including music and dance were the theme and Aaron Wheelz made his way down a 6-story ramp in a wheelchair flipping through a fireworks display for an extravagant display of ability.
The games were not marred by prior concerns about budget shortfalls, the Zika virus and security.
More than 4,300 athletes with disabilities were set to compete in 21 different sports in 11 days of competition in archery, boccia, cycling, equestrian, goalball, judo, paracanoe, paratriathlon, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, table tennis, track and field, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball, fencing, tennis and rugby.
- Tatyana McFadden, from Clarksville,Md. the U.S. track and field star of the Paralympics, was beaten in a photo finish in her final event, the T54 marathon.
Although both she and China’s Jing Ma crossed the finish line in 1:38.44 the photo showed Ma’s wheel crossed first by a hair. McFadden took four gold medals and two silvers overall.
- The U.S. was disappointed by their 1 point loss to Australian double overtime in the wheelchair rugby finals.
- Dahl McKenna of Seattle, Wash. won the first Paralympic medal by a U.S. woman in shooting when she took the bronze medal in the R5 10m air rifle event.
- Michael Brannigan, 19, won gold in the 1500m race beating the second place athlete by5 seconds. Brannigan, of Huntington, N.Y. who has autism was competing for the first time in the Paralympics.
- Alana Nichols, who came in 7th in her event the first time in the canoe sprint was included in the games. Nichols, from Farmington, N.M. has won medals in wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing. She is the first woman to win gold in winter and summer sports.
- The U.S. team brought home37 swimming medals. Becca Meyers of Baltimore, Md. broke her own world record in theS13 400m freestyle in 4:19.59.Michelle Konkoly, from BrynMawr, Pa; broke another world record for the team when she won the SM6 200m individual medley in 1:00.91.
- Wheelchair tennis quad doubles teammates Nick Taylor, Wichita, Kan., and David Wagner, Portland, Ore., beat Australia’s Alcott Dylan and Heath Davidson to take the silver medal.
- Illinois cyclist Joe Berenyi won silver in the C3 3000mindividual finals in 3:34.394 for his fourth Paralympic medal. Shawn Morelli of Meadville, Pa. took the gold medal in the C4 3000m individual race breaking the Paralympic record in 3:59.407.
- In the 90kg men’s judo event Cleveland, Ohio’s Dartanyan Crockett who is visually impaired won his match against2012 silver medalist Samuel Ingram, of Great Britain, taking the bronze medal. In women’s judo Cristella Garciafrom Santa Fe, N.M. won the bronze medal in the 70kg B1category.
- Veteran Bradley Snyder, Baltimore, Md., who lost his sight when he stepped on a explosive device while serving with the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan, won gold, swimming in the men’s400m freestyle S11.
- The triathlon made its debut at the 2016 Paralympics with Christopher Hammer, PT4class, of Cheney, Wash., who came in fourth, missing the bronze medal by 37 seconds and Mark Barr, Davis, Calif., placed fourth in the PT2 class. Barr was in the lead after the swimming leg but was passed in the final leg of the run by France’s Stephane Bahier. Three American women stood on the podium in the PT4 class triathlon – Glendale, Arizona’s Allysa Seely, gold, Hailey Danieswicz, silver and Melissa Stockwell, bronze both of Chicago, Ill.
- Jamie Whitmore, of Sacramento, Calif., won her first gold medal in the women’s cycling road race. She beat China’s Sini Zend and Germany’s Denise Schindler with a time of 1:30.14.
- David Blair, of Eagle Mountain, Utah, made the longest men’s discus throw in the F44 class with a distance of 64:11m breaking the world record in his comeback after a 16-year break from athletics.
- The U.S. women’s goalball team beat Brazil 3-2 for a bronze. The men’s goalball team came in second to Lithuania in a 14-8 loss in the gold medal round coming away with the silver medal.
- The U.S. men’s sitting volleyball team lost all four of its games in Rio.
- Rachael Morrison, of Farmington Hills, Mich., set a world record in the F52 discus event with a throw of 13.09 while Cassie Mitchell, of Warner, Okla. won the silver behind her with a 12.87 throw.
- Roderick Townsend, of Stockton, Calif, won gold against the Chinese team in the T47 long jump with a distance of 7.41.
- Jenny Sichel, of Clifton, N.J., as the coxswain of the crew and the women’s LTA4+ rowing team won silver.
- Categories listed before event names indicate different sport classes. This classification system allows athletes to compete against others with the same function level.
The athletes enjoyed festive closing ceremonies as Brazil successfully completed the 15th Paralympic Games looking forward to 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
The U.S.A. finished fourth in the medal count with 40 gold, 44 silver and 31 bronze for a total of 115 behind Ukraine with a total of 117; Great Britain that scored 147 medals and China that had a total of 239.
For more information about the Paralympic Games visit www.teamusa.org/us-par alympics.
Thanks to the Wheelchair Sports Federation for their help with Paralympic information and photos.