Paralympics

Rio Paralympics one year out preview

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The 2016 Paralympics will be an unprecedented event, the first time in 15 editions to be held in South America with more broadcast coverage than ever and an expected record number of athletes and nations in the largest number of sports on a single Paralympic program.

Part of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) vision is to enable para-athletes to inspire and excite the world.

“For Rio, we might add one extra word — inspire the entire world,” IPC president Sir Philip Craven said in a phone interview Saturday, before flying from Great Britain to Rio to mark Monday’s one-year-out date from the Opening Ceremony.

The Rio 2016 Paralympics will run from Sept. 7-18. Tickets were set to go on sale Monday.

NBC and NBCSN will air a record 66 hours of coverage of the Games. The USOC will provide live coverage at TeamUSA.org, too.

The IPC expects some 4,350 athletes from 170 countries to be represented in Rio, breaking the marks set at London 2012 of 4,237 athletes from 164 countries. The first Paralympics, in Rome in 1960, included 400 athletes from 23 countries.

Higher, too, is the number of sports, from 20 in London to 22 with the addition of canoe and triathlon.

“Our aim with next year’s Games is to build on the success of London 2012 and Sochi 2014, and so far the signs look extremely good,” Craven said in a press release. “You could not ask for a more vibrant host city.”

Craven also cited the enduring change the Paralympics will bring to Brazil, whose government passed the Inclusion of People with Disabilities Act in June. The legislation eliminates barriers in transport, housing, services, education, sport and the exercise of citizenship, according to the IPC.

“Had Rio not won the right to host the Games, then it is unlikely that improving accessibility would have been on the city’s agenda,” Craven, a five-time British Paralympic wheelchair basketball player, said in a press release. “It now is and, as we’ve seen with previous host cities, the good work done before the Games will continue afterwards benefiting millions of people.”

The competition will be without the most famous Paralympian from recent Games, South African runner Oscar Pistorius, but the U.S. and Brazil boast decorated athletes who could take on featured roles.

The Americans will hope to eclipse 100 medals for the first time at a Paralympics since 2000 and break into the top two in the medal standings for the first time since 1996. The team may feature Jessica Long, a 17-time Paralympic swimming medalist, Tatyana McFadden, a 10-time Paralympic track and field medalist (and a Winter Paralympic medalist) and Melissa Stockwell, who swam at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics as the first Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran to make Team USA, and is now a paratriathlete.

Team Brazil could include Alan Oliveira, best known for beating Pistorius at the London Paralympics. Oliveira, 23, won 100m, 200m and 400m gold at the 2013 World Championships and owns the fastest 100m ever run by a double amputee (10.57 seconds). Oliveira’s legs were amputated above the knees 21 days after he was born, due to an intestinal infection.

And swimmer Daniel Dias, who captured nine medals at Beijing 2008 and six golds at London 2012. Dias, 27, was born with not fully formed limbs and started swimming at age 16, inspired by watching the Athens 2004 Paralympics.

Then there’s 18-year-old Petrucio Ferreira, whose arm was amputated below the elbow after an accident with a grinding machine when he was 2, took up track and field in 2013 and is now the 200m world-record holder in his classification.

“The Brazilians have what I call a production line of athletes in many sports,” Craven said.

RELATED: IPC lists top 25 Paralympic moments on 25-year anniversary

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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