Getty Images

Rio Paralympics open with nods to athletes who use wheelchairs

Leave a comment

The Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony started and ended with nods to athletes who use wheelchairs at the Maracanã on Wednesday night.

Clodoaldo Silva, a 13-time Brazilian Paralympic medalist swimmer believed to be competing in his final Games, lit the cauldron to ignite the competition that will run through Sept. 18.

Silva, who uses a wheelchair, received the flame as rain fell, faced a flight of stairs and turned to the large crowd as if to say, “What do I do now?”

Then a staircase opened revealing ramps for Silva to use to reach the cauldron.

Earlier in the torch relay in the stadium, four-time 1980s Paralympic track medalist Marcia Malsar fell while carrying the Olympic flame with the aide of a cane but got up and finished her relay leg with assistance.

The core concept of the four-hour ceremony was, “The heart knows no limits. Everybody has a heart.”

The Parade of Nations included 164 delegations representing some 4,350 athletes, except of course for Russia, which is banned for its poor anti-doping record. However, a man at the tail of the Belarus delegation draped himself in a Russian flag.

Every delegation was accompanied by a placard bearer holding a large puzzle piece with the delegation name printed on it. The puzzle formed on the Maracanã floor became an image of a heart that started beating with a projection and pyrotechnics.

The U.S. team, which includes 289 athletes overall, was led into the stadium by flag bearer Allison Jones, who has won a medal of every color in the Summer and Winter Paralympics as a cyclist and Alpine skier.

On Independence Day in Brazil, the ceremony began with a focus on the wheelchair. More than 1,800 of the athletes at these Games are wheelchair users.

“We wish to stimulate everyone to change their point of view and look at the world as if they were on wheelchairs,” organizers said in the Opening Ceremony media guide.

The show started with a video showing International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven, a five-time British Paralympic wheelchair basketball player, making his transatlantic journey to Rio.

The transition to the stadium’s sights and sounds began with Las Vegas native Aaron Wheelz, an extreme wheelchair athlete, speeding down a ramp and through a giant “0” to signify the end of the countdown to the start of the Opening Ceremony. The move was reminiscent of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The segment gave way to the most decorated Brazilian Paralympian ever, swimmer Daniel Dias. Dias, a 15-time medalist and 10-time gold medalist who is still competing, “swam” across the Maracanã stage to begin a “beach day” segment.

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule

2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Boston Marathon canceled for first time after 123 years; virtual event planned

Boston Marathon
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Boston Marathon, held every year since 1897, has been canceled as an in-person event for the first time. It will be held as a virtual race instead due to the coronavirus.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Boston Athletic Association (BAA) CEO Tom Grilk said in a press release.

The world’s oldest annual marathon had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14, it was announced March 13.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he first considered canceling the postponed marathon during a coronavirus surge in April.

“We were maxed out in our hospital emergency rooms,” Walsh said Thursday. “I realized that the downside of the curve, which we were on, the backside of the curve, is going to be going for some time. The concern of a second surge made me have some real reservations about can we have the marathon or not.”

Walsh said experts said a potential second surge would be between August and October. He held out hope to hold the race until talking with the BAA last week.

All participants originally registered for Boston will be offered a full refund of their entry fee and have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative, which can be run between Sept. 7-14.

More details, including entry information, will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s the biggest alteration to the Boston Marathon, which was inspired by the marathon’s debut at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Previously, the biggest change came in 1918, the last year of World War I. The marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day in April but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. It was rescheduled from April 27 to Oct. 4. Its original fields for April were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele. It’s unknown if they will remain in the field, should London happen.

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 7-14 (virtual event)
Berlin — TBD (will not be held as planned on Sept. 27)
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results