There are just five days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and as thousands of athletes make final preparations ahead of 12 days of sporting action, Tokyo 2020 takes a look at five Paralympians who have trailblazed their way to glory.
Who will make their mark at Tokyo 2020?
Record: Franz Nietlispach competed in every Paralympic Games from 1976 to 2008, becoming the most successful wheelchair racer (athletics) in Paralympic Games' history in the process. He won 14 gold, six silver and one bronze medals in athletics, plus another bronze in handcycling. During his career, Nietlispach also won 20 world titles and multiple marathons, including five at the Boston Marathon. He even competed in table tennis early in his career, competing at the 1976 and 1980 Paralympics.
Nietlispach's transition from athletics to handcycling led to a new career post-sport. In 2006, he began a project with Jaroslaw Baranowsky, an engineer from Poland, to create lighter and more aerodynamic handcycles using carbon. The resulting company was sold in 2005.
Country: Great Britain
Records: Described as Great Britain's greatest ever Paralympian, Tanni Grey-Thompson’s career as a wheelchair racer spanned more than 16 years. During that time, she won 16 Paralympic medals (11 gold, four silver and a bronze) across five Paralympic Games (Seoul 1988 to Athens 2004). She also has 30 track world records to her name and won the women's London Wheelchair Marathon six times between 1992 and 2002.
Country: BrazilSport: Swimming
Records: Daniel Dias is South America’s most decorated Paralympian with 24 Paralympic medals. Inspired by watching fellow Brazilian swimmer Clodoaldo Silva compete at Athens 2004, Dias made his debut at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games when he was 20 years old and made an instant impact. At the end of the Games, the Brazilian swimmer left with nine medals (four golds, four silvers and one bronze). At London 2012, Dias won six golds out of six events at the London Aquatics Centre. Four years later, at his home Games in Rio 2016, the class S5 swimmer won a further nine Paralympic medals (including four golds).
As well as his Paralympic medals, the Brazilian has won 40 World Championships medals (31 golds) and 33 Parapan American Games medals (all of them gold). He is also the holder of six world records. Dias is preparing for his fourth Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
In 2016, Dias achieved another record – he became the first person to receive the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability three times (his other wins were in 2009 and 2013).
Country: Great Britain
Sport: Cycling and swimming
Records: Sarah Storey is Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian with 14 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals. But cycling was not her first sport. Storey made her Paralympic debut aged 14 as a swimmer at Barcelona 1992, where she won two gold medals. She competed in the pool at three more Paralympic Games - winning a further three golds, four silvers and a bronze - before switching to cycling in 2005. By the end of 2005, Storey had broken the world record for the para-cycling three-kilometre individual pursuit.
Following her change of sport, Storey added a further nine cycling titles at the Paralympics of 2008, 2012 and 2016. Storey's achievements include winning 40 world titles (six of which are in swimming), being European champion 21 times (18 in swimming and three in cycling) and holding 76 world records. The British cyclist could add to her medal tally this summer as she competes at her eighth Games in Tokyo.
Country: Spain Sport: Swimming
Records: With 26 medals and counting, Teresa Perales is the most decorated Spanish Para athlete at the Paralympic Games. The Zaragoza-born athlete began swimming in 1995 and despite being diagnosed with neuropathy, which caused her to lose the motor function in her legs, she has not looked back. Her Paralympic journey began at the Sydney 2000 Games where she won five medals (a silver and four bronze) and has won at least one medal in every Paralympics, European Championship, and World Championship in which she has competed since.
To date, she has 36 Paralympic medals (seven gold, nine silver and 10 bronze), 20 world cup medals (three gold, 10 silver and seven bronze) and 37 from European Championships (10 gold, 19 silver and eight bronze). Alongside these, she also holds five world records.
Tokyo 2020 will be the Spanish swimmer's sixth Paralympic Games and she is hoping to boost her medal tally when she takes to the pool this summer.
The Paralympic Games take place from 24 August - 5 September, and you can see a full competition schedule on Tokyo 2020.