Leani Ratri Oktila (Para Badminton)
The top doubles player is the biggest hope for Indonesia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where badminton makes its debut in September 2020. The 27-year-old, who has more gold than any other medal in her glittering cabinet, is aiming to win three gold in women’s SL4 category. At the BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2019, Oktila won claimed three medals as promised, two gold (singles and mixed doubles) and silver in women’s doubles SL3-SU5 category. In her singles, she avenged her 2017 Worlds defeat to her Chinese nemesis Cheng Hefang 21-16, 21-16 in the finals. She also has two gold and a silver from the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games.
Yu Chui Yee (Wheelchair Fencing)
She is Hong Kong’s most prominent athlete who created a sensation at the 2004 Athens Paralympics winning four gold medals in both individual and team events of épée and foil. Yu Chui went on to add more Paralympic medals from Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 (two silver though)—making it a collection of 11 Paralympic medals including seven gold. At the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games, she clinched five medals including a gold in women’s individual foil event.
Honghzhuan Zhou (Athletics)
The Chinese Paralympian star is a treat to watch when she competes. The winner of five Paralympic and seven world titles, Zhou is one of the world’s best T53 wheelchair racers the sport has ever produced. Having lost the ability to walk at the age of three, Zhou made her Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008, after having taken up the sport four years earlier as a 16-years-old. She immediately made her mark, winning a medal in each of her three races. Since then she has been unstoppable. At the London 2012, she won two gold (400m T53 and 800m T53); a silver (100m T53) and bronze (200m T53) and defended it in Rio 2016.
Enkhbayar Sodnompiljee (Para Powerlifting)
The 32-year-old is the face of Para Powerlifting in Mongolia for several years now. Having rose into prominence with the bronze medal at the Incheon 2014, Sodnompiljee still considers it as his most memorable moment. He went on to clinch his country’s first Paralympic medal in the sport claiming a bronze in men’s 88kg event. At the Nur-Sultan 2019 World Para Powerlifting Championships, Sodnompiljee made history bettering his own men’s up to 107kg world record with a powerful 247kg lift to give Mongolia the first gold.
Pramod Bhagat (Para Badminton)
He is the most prominent name in the Para Badminton fraternity in India and will one of their biggest medal hopes at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Bhagat has been in ominous form this year, having won 10 medals in men’s singles and doubles SL3 category. The 31-year-old extended his golden run of form at the World Championships 2019 in Basel, clinching two gold (singles and men’s doubles) in an impressive manner. This was his third singles Gold at the Worlds. Owing to his achievements, the Asian Para Games 2018 winner has also been nominated for the prestigious National Sports Award 2019 (Arjuna Award) in India.
Cuiping Zhang (Shooting)
She is one of the biggest names in the Shooting Para Sport. With her sharp and accurate shooting skills, Zhang has been on a roll since her Paralympic debut in Beijing 2008 where she won two silver medals. She turned the medal colour to gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games winning the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) title and set a world and Paralympic record in the process, followed by another Paralympic title in R8. She maintained her golden streak at Rio 2016 too taking the gold in R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) and R8 besides a silver in the R2 event.
Mohamad Ridzuan (Athletics)
Having made his senior debut in 2011, Ridzuan went on to become the first Malaysian to win a Paralympic gold taking the Men’s 100m T36 gold in Rio. He also has a gold from the 2015 World Para Athletics Championship while at Dubai 2019, he settled for a bronze. At the Indonesia 2018, he cliched three gold medals in 100m, 400m and long jump T36 events. In fact, his 11.87 seconds run at 100m finals was a world record effort. He is certainly a big medal hope for Malaysia in Tokyo 2020.
Amilova Fotimakhon (Swimming)
The 19-year-old from Uzbekistan was a sensation at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games winning seven medals, including four golds. In the process, she also smashed two world records in as many days giving a strong indication of what was coming next. A gold medallist at the Rio Paralympics, Fotimakhon will be a strong contender at the World Championship and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Sareh Javanmardi (Shooting)
The first female shooter to win Paralympic gold for Iran, Javanmardi has come a long way since winning the bronze medal at London 2012 which was also the beginning of a blossoming career. She is now a three-time world, two-time Paralympic champion and holder of two world records. Her most recent achievement was double gold at the 2018 World Championships in Choengju, South Korea. She will be eager to defend her titles at Tokyo 2020.
Shingo Kunieda (Wheelchair tennis)
With 26 Grand Slam titles besides three Paralympic gold medals, Kunieda is the considered the best wheelchair tennis player the sport has ever produced. After struggling with injuries for more than a year, the Japanese superstar was back with a bang in 2018. He won two Grand Slams and the Singles Masters and, returned to the world No.1 after two years. This year, he has been on a roll having already won three titles and aims to extend the streak in the year ahead. The elusive Wimbledon title and Tokyo 2020 gold is his main targets.