Asia Review: Tokyo 2020 showed Asia a dominant force in Paralympics
Asia once again showed that they are the force to reckon with in the future Games, with a remarkable show at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Altogether, 24 Asian nations made it to the medals table collecting 410 medals among them. On top, it was China who maintained their domination in the table in yet another Paralympic Games, this time signing off with 207 medals of which 96 were gold.
They single handedly claimed a greater number of medals than the 23 other Asian nations collectively.
The hosts Japan who had returned from Rio 2016 without a gold medal, surely have lifted their status with their brilliant show at home that had 13 gold out of their total of 51 medals which is 26 more medals than they did in 2016. They finished in 11th position in the table, two spots ahead of I.R. Iran who ended with 24 medals including 12 gold.
India, which ended 24th place, were equally brilliant at these Games producing their best ever show with five golds from the 19 medals, which was 15 medals more than they had in Rio 2016. History was also made in Tokyo as they got their first ever female Paralympic gold medalist in the young shooter Avani Lekhara.
In addition, there were numerous firsts for Asian nations at these Games, including Pakistan winning their first ever gold medal through their only Paralympic medallist Haider Ali in Men’s F37 discus throw final. Ali had a silver and a bronze from the Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 Games.
Oman won their first ever Paralympic medal when Mohammed Al Mashaykhi claimed a bronze in the Men’s Shot Put F32.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s first ever gold medal was won by Herath Mudiyanselage Dinesh Priyantha in Men’s Javelin T46 final.
Jordan also picked up their first gold medal since the Sydney 2000 Games when powerlifter Omar Qarada finished on top in the men’s -49kg.
Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou won the first ever Badminton medal to be awarded at a Paralympic Games, while Khwansudaa Phuangkitcha claimed the first Asian medal in Taekwondo when she won the bronze medal match in women’s K44 -49kg contest.
Asia’s newest National Paralympic Committees Bhutan and the Maldives also competed in their first ever Paralympic Games, while Yemen competed for the first time since 1992.
But the participation of the two Afghanistan Para-athletes despite all the difficulties they faced while leaving their country was the major highlight for Asia.
The athletes’ participation definitely has sent out a message of peace, solidarity and hope.
Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed who was personally present at the Tokyo 2020 Games was overwhelmed by the brilliant performances by Asian athletes.
“I felt privileged to have attended one of the best ever Paralympic Games. The Tokyo 2020 Games were surely extraordinary. Once again, Asia have set the bar even higher and have demonstrated to the world just what they are capable of. The Asian nations have won over 400 medals and more gold medals were won than in Rio. But it’s not just the medals that have made these Games so special. There were many special moments. One among them were to see Afghanistan’s Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli competing at the Games after the difficulties they faced leaving their home country,” said Rashed.
“I want to also laud the people of Japan for an amazing job of staging these incredible Games. The kindness and friendliness of everyone, including the volunteers, has been outstanding and these Games will be etched in our memories for lifetime.”
While the top names including Iran’s Zahra Nemati (archery), Japan’s Shingo Kuneida (wheelchair tennis), Iran’s men’s team (sitting volleyball) among others lived up to their billing and defended their titles, there were many newcomers who mesmerised with their incredible efforts.
Among the promising medalists included 14-year-old Miyuki Yamada who won the host nation’s first medal at the Games claiming a silver medal in the women’s 100m backstroke S2 final. She also became the youngest ever Japanese Paralympic medalist.
India’s 19-year-olds Lekhara and Manish Narwal stole the show at the Asaka shooting range with their gold medal winning performances in R2- Women’s 10m Air Rifle SH1 and P4-Mixed 50m pistol SH1 finals, respectively. Lekhara, who also had a bronze in R8-Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1, also became the first Indian women to win a gold medal at a Paralympic Games when she emerged winner in R2.
China’s Para Badminton prodigy Liu Yutong went on to clinch the women’s singles WH2 and women’s doubles WH1-WH2 silver medal along with Menglu Yin.
Among the multi-medalists, China’s Lu Dong (S5, SM5) and Tao Zheng (S5) stood atop among the Asian athletes clinching four gold each in Para Swimming.
Thailand’s Pongsakorn Paeyo’s brilliant show in T53 events was the highlight on the track as he took the gold medals in the men’s 100m, 400m and 800m events, one of them with a world-record effort.
Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki (S4, SM4, SB3) also was outstanding winning five medals that had one gold—the host nation’s first gold at Tokyo 2020—in 100-metre freestyle S4.
Others who couldn’t make it to the medals also left with memories to cherish for a lifetime. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were surely a Games every Asian can be proud of.