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

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule