The closing ceremonies of the delayed 2020 Paralympic Games were held in Tokyo on Sept. 4 — a full year later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony marked the end of a long road of training for athletes who came from all over the world to compete.
Several competitors who live with multiple sclerosis (MS) brought their world-class athletic skills to the global stage, working to compete in the heat and under strict pandemic protocols. Temperatures at the Paralympics exceeded 85 degrees Fahrenheit. People with MS often deal with symptom exacerbations during hot weather, but the games went on as planned — with several athletes with MS winning medals.
Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox brought home a gold medal in cycling this year after she set a world record during the C4-5 500-meter women’s final. Just days later, Cox switched her focus to running, coming in fourth place during the women’s T38 400-meter dash. Cox had previously won gold in both the C4-5 500-meter cycling and the T38 400-meter running events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. She also served as Great Britain’s flag bearer during the 2016 Paralympics closing ceremonies.
Team USA’s Jill Walsh claimed a bronze medal in cycling this year. Her third-place finish at Tokyo’s T1-2 road race brought her all-time Paralympic medal total to three — she had previously won two silver medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. Walsh had been a runner and triathlete in the past, but her MS diagnosis impacted her balance, leading her to try out a three-wheeled bike — which is where she found Paralympic success.
The Winter edition of the Paralympic Games will run March 4-13, 2022 in Beijing.