Paralympics: Rio 2016 draws to a close with hundreds of records broken


There is more to the success of a Paralympic Games than numbers alone, but one number makes a compelling case for Rio 2016 having been one of the best Games ever: 209 world records were set during the 11 days of competition.

Photo: Martin Schulz winning gold in first triathlon at Paralympics; Copyright: Andi Weiland |

209 world records were set during the Games, which were watched by more than 2.1 million people of all ages and backgrounds; © Photo: Andi Weiland |

In total, more than 4,300 athletes from 159 countries competed in the Games, with almost 1,500 medals distributed to sportsmen and sportswomen from 82 countries in five continents.

Managing a sporting festival of such a scale required the contribution of 15,000 volunteers from 119 countries, plus the work of the 3,000 employees of Rio 2016.

The Brazilian public responded to the efforts of athletes and organisers with the warmth and enthusiasm that is typical of them. At the last race of swimming competition at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on Saturday (17 September), there were extraordinary scenes as the crowd willed the Brazilian 4x100m relay team to a bronze medal amidst deafening cheers.

"It was unreal," team member Phelipe Rodrigues said. "Being the last to dive into the pool and having the whole crowd going wild, it was just an amazing feeling. It was a lot more noise than a football stadium." It was not only Brazilian athletes that found inspiration in passionate crowds.

"Thank you to the Brazilian people for having the Paralympics. They are very supportive people," said Liam Malone, a blade runner from New Zealand who won gold in the 400m T44 in the Olympic Stadium.

In total, more than 2.1 million tickets were sold to the Paralympic Games, with Brazilians buying 80 per cent of them. On Saturday (10 September), the Barra Olympic Park welcomed a record number of visitors; 172,000 people, more even than on the busiest day of the Olympic Games at the same site in August. In a press conference in the Park on Sunday (18 September), the last day of competition, Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 organising committee, said the experience of the Games had been "unbelievable".

Nuzman said the Olympic and Paralympic Games had changed Rio de Janeiro forever. "This is the greatest transformation of a city during an Olympic Games. No city has changed so much in such a short period," he said.

Paralympic athletes applauded the organisation of the Games and the accessibility of the venues. "It's been fine to get around. It's been really easy," said Tatyana McFadden, the multiple gold medal-winning wheelchair racer from the USA. "It's been amazing, we had people everywhere that helped us so it's been easy." "These Paralympic Games are perfectly organised," Italian road cycling legend Alex Zanardi said. "The atmosphere in the village is fantastic."

"Rio goes into history proud, with our heads held high and happy," Nuzman said, at the conclusion of two months of sport that the city will remember forever.; Source: Rio 2016
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