Paralympic athletes are above all athletes and secondly people with a disability. They train very hard for several years, in order to be able to qualify for the Games. Their performances can be compared to and can sometimes surpass those of their Olympic counterparts. At the Athens Paralympic Games (17-28 September 2004) we will have the opportunity to witness exceptional performances.
In some sports Paralympic athletes have achieved world records that exceed able-bodied athletes, as in Powerlifting. Five of ten Powerlifting records are held by Paralympians. One of them is Ahmed Gomaa Mohamed Ahmed from Egypt, whose world record of 193.5 kg exceeds the non-disabled record by more than 10 kilograms.
Ν atalie du Toi is a swimmer from South Africa with a below knee amputation. She won two gold medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester (50m and 100m freestyle). She also qualified for the finals for the 800m freestyle among able-bodied athletes.
Marla Runyan , runner with vision impairment runner from the USA , competed at the 1996 Paralympic Games and won a silver medal. Four years later for Sydney she qualified for the US Track Team to compete for the 1500m at the Olympic Games. She reached the Final. Marla has only peripheral vision.
John Maclean , Australian athlete with paraplegia, has finished 3 times the Iron Man competition in Kona , Hawaii . This is one of the most difficult races in the world that combines 3,8km swimming, 180 km bicycle, and a marathon of 42.2 km. MacLean is also the first athlete with paraplegia who has swum the English Channel (the strait between England and France).
Nigerian Adjibola Adeoye, who has an arm amputation holds the 100m Paralympic Record with 10.72 and is just 1 second and eight hundredths behind Donavan Baileys Olympic Record of 9.84.
Shea Cowart holds the Paralympic World Record with 13.68.
She has a double below knee amputation.
Tsuhida Wakato , a wheelchair athlete from Japan , needs 1:38:32 to cover the distance of the marathon 42.195 km. The world best performance for a female able-bodied athlete is 2:18:47, Catherine Ndereba, KEN.
Heinz Frey , a wheelchair athlete from Switzerland , has covered the marathon in 1:20:14 . The world best performance for a male able-bodied athlete of Khalid Khannouchi from the United States is 2:05:38.
United States swimmer Tricia Zorn with vision impairment came within one, one hundredth-of a second of qualifying for the US Olympic Team in 1992.
Benoit Huot from Canada holds the world record 25.04 for a Paralympic Swimmer in the S10 Class. Alexander Popov's record is 21.64.
At distances above 400 m the world records of athletes in wheelchairs are faster than those of standing able-bodied athletes.
Australian Paralympic basketballer, Troy Sachs, shot 42 points in one match in the 1996 Paralympic Final setting a new Paralympic and record and exceeding the Olympic Basketball record.