On the eve of the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed wished athletes from the region every success in the forthcoming competition and called for the Games to act as a springboard for greater growth of the Paralympic movement in Asia.
823 athletes from 39 Asian nations are due to compete with additional numbers of pilots, guides and competition partners, meaning that Asian athletes make up c. 20% of the athlete cohort. Rashed commented:
We’re pleased that there is a strong cohort of Asian athletes competing in Rio which will be the largest ever Paralympic Games. However, as Asia makes up 60% of the global population, our region is significantly underrepresented. We know the power of sport at all levels to transform the lives of people with disabilities so, with the the Asian Para-Games in 2018 and the next three Paralympic Games taking place in Asia, we have an amazing platform to drive growth. I call upon all the governments and sports organisations in Asia to seize this fantastic opportunity.
Asian athletes to watch out for include
- The strongest Paralympian, Siamand Rahman from Iran. He is a gold medallist from London in the over 100kg category and is the current world record holder at 295kg. He has yet to attempt 300kg but could do this in Rio.
- Iran’s Zahra Nehmati who will be competing for the second time in Rio having been part of Iran’s Olympic team where she carried her nation’s flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremony. She won a Gold medal in London and is looking to repeat her success.
- Chinese sprinter Cuiquing Liu who competes in the T11 category, meaning she will go head to head with home team favourite Terezinha Guilhermina. She broke Guilhermina’s decade long dominance at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha winning 4 gold medals and breaking the Asian record twice.
- Japan’s Shingo Kunieda who is hoping to make it his third Paralympic Gold in a row in Wheelchair Tennis.