10 of the best: The finest summer Paralympians

Tokyo 2020 takes place between August 24 and September 5.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, left, Esther Vergeer, centre, and Natalia Partyka, right, enjoyed phenomenal Paralympic careers (PA)
Tanni Grey-Thompson, left, Esther Vergeer, centre, and Natalia Partyka, right, enjoyed phenomenal Paralympic careers (PA)

Some created singular unforgettable moments, most have won a stash of medals across a series of Games, all have been pioneers.

Here, the PA news agency picks out 10 of the finest summer Paralympians

Tanni Grey-Thompson

Arguably Britain’s most famous Paralympian. Baroness Grey-Thompson, who has spina bifida, was a wheelchair racer and competed in five Games between 1988 and 2004. She claimed 11 gold medals, plus four silvers and a bronze, and was created a Life Peer in 2010.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius is currently serving a prison sentence (David Davies/PA)

Regarded as a true trailblazer, the South African double amputee known as ‘the Blade Runner’ won six Paralympic titles and competed in the 400m at the London Olympics. He is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Natalia Partyka

Poland’s Natalia Partyka made her Paralympics debut aged just 11 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Born without a right hand and forearm, the Polish table tennis ace is a five-time Paralympic gold medallist and has also competed in the Olympics. Partyka made her Games debut at Sydney 2000 aged just 11 and became the sport’s youngest Paralympic champion four years later in Athens.

Sir Lee Pearson

Great Britain’s Lee Pearson has 11 Paralympic gold medals (Adam Davy/PA)

The Staffordshire equestrian star, who is preparing for his sixth Games, had a 100 per cent record of nine golds from nine events from his first three. Since then, ‘The Godfather’ of British Para Dressage has won a further two golds, two silvers and a bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Esther Vergeer

Esther Vergeer was a four-time Paralympic singles champion (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Dutch wheelchair tennis player Vergeer was Paralympic champion in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London, in addition to three golds and a silver in doubles. The 40-year-old also won 21 Grand Slam titles before retirement and is the Netherlands’ Chef de Mission for Tokyo.

Trischa Zorn

The most-decorated Paralympian of all-time. American swimmer Zorn, who was legally blind until she received two artificial iris implants in 2003, won a staggering 41 golds across seven Games between 1980 and 2004. The 57-year-old claimed a remarkable total of 55 medals for Team USA.

Daniel Dias

Brazil’s Daniel Dias enjoyed a medal-laden home Games at Rio 2016 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Brazilian swimmer became his nation’s most-decorated Paralympian after winning four gold, three silver and two bronze medals on home soil at Rio 2016. Having already claimed 24 medals across three Games, Dias is set to retire after competing in Tokyo.

Chantal Petitclerc

Canada’s Chantal Petitclerc is now a senator (Gareth Copley/PA)

Canadian athlete Petitclerc was a dominant force in wheelchair racing from 1996 to 2008. The 51-year-old won 14 Paralympic gold medals in a stellar career, plus a further five silver and two bronze. In 2016, she was named to the Senate of Canada.

Dame Sarah Storey

Great Britain’s Sarah Storey is preparing for her eighth Paralympic Games (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Britain’s most-decorated female Paralympian, cyclist Storey made her Games debut in Barcelona aged 14. The 43-year-old won five gold, eight silver and three bronze medals across four Games as a swimmer before switching to the bike and collecting a further nine golds in Beijing, London and Rio.

Natalie Du Toit

South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit, right, at London 2012 (John Walton/PA)

The South African swimmer, who in 2001 lost her left leg below the knee in a scooter accident when she was travelling to school, is a 13-time Paralympic champion. She became the first amputee to qualify for the Olympics when she booked a place at Beijing 2008 in the 10km open water event.

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