Paralympics 2012: Six of the best to watch...

 

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The Independent Online

Friday 31 August: Shooting

Jonas Jacobsson

Not short on experience after eight previous Paralympic appearances, the Swedish shooter will be looking to add to his incredible record of 16 gold, three silver and nine bronze medals. He began as a 15-year-old at the 1980 Games in Arnhem, and will grace the Royal Artillery Barracks as one of Sweden's most famous athletes. Jacobsson became the first disabled athlete to be awarded the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal in 2008, Sweden's highest prize for sporting achievement. The 47-year-old begins the first of his four 2012 events in the Men's R1-10m Air Rifle Standing-SH1 on Friday at 12.30pm.

Saturday 1 September: Athletics

Jason Smyth

The 25-year-old from Derry emulated Usain Bolt at the 2008 Games in Beijing, breaking both 100m and 200m world records in the T13 class. The Irishman initially had dreams of competing in both the Olympics and Paralympics, but missed out on Olympic qualification in July. Smyth, who is visually impaired, was described by American sprinter Tyson Gay as the most gifted sprinter on the planet, and will be hoping to begin his defence of the titles in the T13 100m final on Saturday, from 8pm.

Monday 3 September: Table tennis

Natalia Partyk

Born without a right forearm, this Polish table-tennis sensation sits alongside Oscar Pistorius as the only other athlete to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The 23-year-old reached the third round of the Olympics, but claimed the experience will give her an advantage in the coming weeks. She has won gold at the past two Paralympics in the Class 10 singles, and will be looking to add to this, with the final at the ExCeL on Monday 3 September at 7.30pm.

... from around the world

Wednesday 5 September: Handcycling

Alex Zanardi

The former Formula One racer will be competing in his first Paralympics against men half his age, and has claimed he will not just be turning up but going for gold. After losing a leg in a CART race in 2001, 45-year-old Zanardi briefly returned to motor sport before taking up handcycling. The Italian is No 1 in the world, and won the 2011 New York Handcycling Marathon four years after taking up the sport. He competes in the H4 Time Trial at Brands Hatch on 5 September, from 2.30pm.

Thursday 6 September: Sailing

Israel's Sonar team

All three of Israel's Paralympic Sonar team have disabilities suffered while serving in their country's armed forces. Dror Chohen was paralysed from the waist down after being flung out of a vehicle at Air Force Flight School, Arnon Efrati's arm was amputated when his tank was hit in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, while Benny Vexler lost his arm in the first Lebanon War in 1982. They won gold in 2004, but finished only fifth in Beijing. They are still one of the favourites in this 11-race series in Weymouth, culminating on Thursday 6 September at 11am.

Saturday 8 September: Wheelchair rugby

United States v Canada

The wheelchair rugby competition offers the prospect of a meeting between the current gold medallists, USA, and Canada – a rivalry so fierce it reached the big screen in the 2005 film Murderball. Played with bone-breaking aggression, this event is tipped to be one of the most exciting and widely talked-about at the Games, and it is one of the few events that incorporates both men and women in the same team. The final will be held at the Basketball Arena on Saturday 8 September at 7pm.

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