TOP TEN AFRICAN PERFORMERS AT THE PARALYMPIC GAMES
Given that the cognitive abilities of an individual are not impaired, carrying out specific tasks is usually not much of a setback, especially for physically impaired people. Sports is a physical activity that every individual has a right to irrespective of their race or background. Although still gaining relevance, the Paralympics are a series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of disabilities, usually physical like impaired muscle power limb deficiency, amongst others.
With its origin dating back to Rome in 1960 having just 400 athletes from 23 different countries compete at the 1960 games, the 2020 summer Paralympics games were supposed to take place in Japan but eventually postponed until 2021 due to the emergence of the coronavirus outbreak and will now accommodate a whooping 4400 athletes in 540 events out of all 22 sports categories.
From the 83 qualified nations for next year’s tournament, 12 African Nations will be duly represented. The last edition of the Summer Paralympics games held in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, having 159 Nations, of which 43 were Africans. With Africa gradually looking to stamp her authority in the world of international sports, here is a look at some of the top Paralympians at the last summer paralympic games that were held in 2016.
1. KEVIN PAUL
Kevin Paul is a South African Paralympic swimmer that participated in the 2016 summer Paralympics games in the SB9 class of the 100 meters breaststroke category. The 29-year-old athlete is famous for his breaststroke swimming technique as he bagged gold in his first-ever Paralympic games in 2008. He later went ahead to win gold at the 2013, 2015, and 2016 editions. In the course of his illustrious career, he only finished with silver just twice in the 2010 and 2012 Olympics held in Eindhoven and London respectively.
2. ABDELLATIF BAKA
Abdellatif Baka is a visually impaired Algerian middle-distance runner who specializes in the 800m and 1500m T13 classification race. His first berth at athletics was at the London 2012 paralympic games, where he finished with a gold medal at the T13 800 meters race. Baka, however, doubled is efforts just a year later at the IPC Athletics world championships held in Lyon, winning two gold medals at the T13 800m and T13 1500m. In the last edition of the paralympic games he participated in 2016, he again bagged gold in the t13 1500m race.
3. SHERIFF HOOTMAN
Sheriff Hootman is an Egyptian Paralympic powerlifter competing in the 56 kg class. Since Othman hails from a nation that usually finishes top in sporting events, the five-time gold medalist is a force to reckon with in this paralympic category. In all summer paralympic games he featured, he won gold, including the 56 kg powerlifting in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London edition and in the 59 kg powerlifting in 2016. In the 2008 summer Paralympics, he broke the world record with a lift of 202.5 kg and even broke it again when he lifted a weight of 205 kg at the 2010 IPC powerlifting world championships where he still finished with gold in the 2010 and 2014 edition.
4. EL AMIN CHENTOUF
El Amin Chentouf is a Moroccan visually impaired paralympic athlete who specializes in T12 distance races. If he has any attributes to go by, it would be a renowned world series marathon champion outside the Paralympics. At the 2016 paralympic games, he finished with gold in the T12 marathon category after winning gold four years earlier in the T12 5000m race in London in 2012. At the IPC world championships held in Lyon in 2013, he single-handedly swept gold in the 1500m, 5000m, and the marathon in a single edition of the tournament. After his display in Rio, Chentouf established his reputation as one of the greatest distance runners in his class.
5. ROLAND EZURUIKE
Roland Ezuruike is a Nigerian Paralympic powerlifter. In his appearance at the summer paralympic games in Rio in 2016, he set a new Paralympics record in the men’s 54 kg category after lifting 200 kg to clinch the gold medal. Ezuruike’s other gold medals in powerlifting include 54 kg powerlifting competition in them All-African games in 2015 and the lightweight at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
6. REINHARDT HAMMAN
Reinhardt Hamman is a track and field Paralympic athlete from South Africa who competes majorly in the F38 category throwing events. He participates majorly in the event of shotput, javelin throw, and discus throw. In the 2016 summer paralympic games, he claimed gold in the F38 javelin throw, few years after also bagging gold in the 2013 and 2015 edition of the IPC Athletics world championships. Hamman was born in Cape Town and has cerebral palsy, a movement disorder.
7. NASSIMA SAIFI
Nassima Saifi is a female Paralympian athlete who hails from Algeria. She specializes in the F58 throwing events in both the discus and shot put. Saifi was born able-bodied but had a left leg amputated after she was hit by a car when she was at age 10. Her first appearance in a competitive sport was in 2011 when she entered for the F58 discus throw at the pan Arab games and winning gold in the process. In the 2016 summer Paralympics games, she also won gold in T57 discuss just four years after clinching gold in the T15 discus at London 2012 paralympic games.
8. AZEDDINE NOUIRI
Azeddine Nouiri is a Moroccan wheelchair athlete who compete in throwing events. In 2012 at the summer Paralympics games, he set a world javelin record of 13.10m and finishing in 10th position. Although he specialises in the shot put and javelin throw event, his only two gold medals were form the F34 shot put at the summer Olympic games that held in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He also served as a flag bearer for Morocco at the 2016 summer Paralympics parade of Nations.
9. ZANELE SITU
Zanele Situ is a South African Paralympian athlete who specializes in the javelin and discus throwing events. She carries out her sporting activities in a wheelchair as she was diagnosed with spine tuberculosis at the age of 12, which resulted in her paralysis. Her first international competition was in 1998 when Situ represented South Africa at her first IPC Athletics world championship in the F54 javelin, where she bagged her first gold with a best throw of 14.45 meters. After successful years in the titles, winning further three gold medals at the 2002 and 2004 paralympic games, she participated in the F54 javelin throw, but this time finished third place with a bronze medal. Situ is the first female South African black athlete to win a paralympic gold medal.
10. RAOUA TLILI
Raoua Tlili is a Tunisian paralympic athlete who competes mainly in the F41 shot put and discus event. She is also signed to the Tunisian federation of sports for the disabled, a club side in our country. Her first paralympic gold medal was in the F40 discus throw category in 2008. She later won double gold at F41 shot put and F41 discus throw simultaneously in 2016. She has five gold medals from 2011 to 2019 in the discus throw and shot put, which makes her a record holder in the discus F41 category with a distance of 33.38 m and also owns the paralympic F41 record in the shot put with 10.19 meters.