(Image/Golden Tama)

Going for Gold: Sports, Athletes to Watch at the 2021 Paralympics

Wondering what sports to watch, and which athletes to watch for at the Paralympics? Check out our full coverage here on GearJunkie.

It’s been about a month since the Olympics wrapped up in Tokyo, but the action isn’t over yet. That’s right: The Paralympics are here. While sport climbing and surfing — two new sports for the Games — were introduced to the 2020 Olympics, they won’t hit the stage at the Paralympics until 2024.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of sports — and athletes — to watch.

And if you aren’t familiar, the Paralympics are just as important and exciting as the main Olympic Games. Over 3,000 athletes will compete from more than 160 participating nations on the international stage.

Athletes with upper and lower limb differences, limb amputations, visual, auditory, cognitive impairments, and other forms of physical or limited mobility can enter. Paralympians compete in a wide range of sports, just like athletes at the Olympics, including cycling, swimming, archery, athletics, powerlifting, triathlon, and more.

Here are a few athletes to watch for at the Paralympics this year.

Team USA Paralympic Athletes

Jessica Long

Age: 29

Known for: Thirteen-time Paralympic Champion; has won 23 Games medals, making her one of the most decorated Paralympians in history.

Discipline: Swimming

Para classification: S8, SB7, SM8

Elizabeth Baker

Age: 47

Known for: Seven-time World Paratriathlon medalist; completed her first IRONMAN in 2014, winning her division.

Discipline: Triathlon

Para classification: PTVI, B3

Joseph Berenyi

Age: 52

Known for: Three-time Paralympian (2012, 2016, 2020 Games), four-time Paralympic medalist.

Discipline: Road Cycling, Track Cycling

Para classification: MC3

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Jon-Allan Butterworth, a para-cyclist from Great Britain, competes at the 2016 Paralympic Games; (photo/A Ricardo)

Oksana Masters

Age: 32

Known for: Podiumed twice at the 2019 Road World Championships; competed in cycling at the 2016 Games (placed fourth).

Discipline: Road Cycling (handcycle)

Para classification: H5

Brad Snyder

Age: 37

Known for: Three-time medalist at the 2012 Paralympics; three-time gold medalist at the 2016 Paralympics; broke a 30-year standing Paralympic record with his time of 56.15 in the men’s 100 freestyle in 2016; won gold at the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships in Wisconsin in June.

Discipline: Swimming, Triathlon

Para classification: PTVI, B1

Kelly Elmlinger

Age: 42

Known for: Previously competed in para-swimming; wheelchair raced at the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon and the 2016 Boston Marathon; named 2018 USA Paratriathlon Developmental Athlete of the Year.

Discipline: Triathlon

Para classification: PTS4

International Paralympic Athletes

Sarah Storey

Team: Great Britain

Age: 43

Known for: One of the most decorated Paralympians of all time; competed in swimming from 1992 to 2004, and cycling from 2008 until now; won multiple golds in multiple cycling events at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympics; named Para Sportsperson of the Decade by UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Discipline: Cycling, Swimming

Para classification: C4-C5

Marcel Hug

Team: Switzerland

Age: 35

Known for: Winning multiple times at the Berlin, Chicago, New York, London, and Boston Marathons; winning 2 golds and 2 silvers at 2016 Paralympics (also won the Marathon event in the T54 classification).

Discipline: Marathon, 800m, 1,500m, and 5,000m

Para classification: T54

Carol Cooke

Team: Australia

Age: 60

Known for: Three-time Paralympic gold medalist; previously competed at the national and world level in rowing, swimming, and cycling.

Discipline: Road Cycling

Para classification: T1-T2

How to Watch the Paralympics

The Paralympics run from August 24 to September 5. Find the 2021 Paralympics on NBC on cable, and Amazon, Apple, or Roku TV. Or, watch live and recorded Paralympic competitions online.

Schedule Highlights:

  • Track Cycling: August 25-28
  • Road Cycling: September 1-3
  • Cycling — Road Time Trials: August 31
  • Swimming: August 25-September 3
  • Marathon (men’s and women’s): September 5
  • Triathlon (men’s and women’s): August 28-29
  • Taekwondo (new sport for 2021): September 2-4

Sport additions to look for at future Paralympic Games:

  • Surfing (submitted for inclusion to IPC committee in 2017, aiming for 2024)
  • Sport climbing (application deadline for climbing to be designated as a para-sport for the 2028 Games is in 2021)
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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has been writing professionally for more than six years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.