Paralympics 2016: Five foreign stars likely to light up the Games

Matt Gatward
Tuesday 06 September 2016 18:02
The brilliant Ryley Batt in action for Australia
The brilliant Ryley Batt in action for Australia

Ryley Batt (Aus)

One-man teams don’t exist but Ryley Batt almost defies the rule. You have to be pretty special to make your Paralympic debut at the age of 15 and in such a brutal sport as wheelchair rugby, too. But that’s Batt, 27, who started out in Athens and is probably the world’s best player for the world’s best team: Australia won Paralympic gold in London and the world title two years ago. In 2012, Batt scored 160 points during the tournament and 37 goals in the final against Canada. In the final at the worlds he scored 45 goals to lead his team to a 67-56 victory over Canada.

Matt Stutzman (USA)

The ‘Armless Archer’ Matt Stutzman is proudly in the Guinness Book of World Records with the Furthest Accurate Distance Record under his belt. It’s not any old record either: it was previously held by an able-bodied athlete and Stutzman broke it with a 283.47m shot. The remarkable American has learnt to do everything that one might usually do with ones arms with his feet.

Tatyana McFadden (USA)

Tatyana McFadden’s story is incredible even by Paralympic standards – and the wheelchair racer is set to become one of the most talked about athletes at Rio. She was born with spina bifida in Russia and was raised in an orphanage without access to a wheelchair. In 1994, she was adopted by Debbie McFadden, who was working for the USA’s health department, moved to the States and took up Paralympic Sport. Ten years on, aged just 15, she represented the US at Athens winning medals in the 100m and 200m. More medals followed in Beijing and then in London three golds. Now she is going for the full set: from 100m to marathon.

Daniel Dias (Brazil)

If the level of support at the Olympics is a barometer, the home crowd will be firmly and vocally behind swimmer Daniel Dias, Brazil’s most decorated Paralympian, in Rio over the next two weeks. The 28-year-old has won 10 gold, four silver and one bronze medal since making his Paralympic debut in 2008 and is competing in nine events in Rio. Grab seven golds, (as he did the World Championships in 2015) and he could become history’s most successful male Paralympian.

5-a-side football team (Brazil)

Perhaps the loudest roar of the Olympics was when Neymar slotted that decisive penalty past German goalkeeper Timo Horn to secure Brazil gold in the football in the Maracana. There could be further emotional scenes should the hosts win the 5-a-side Paralympic title. The blind team is led by “the Paralympic Pele” also known as Jefinho and are seeking a fourth successive title.

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