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Paris Paralympics: seven to watch

Paris Paralympics: seven to watch

Matt Stutzman, the ‘Armless Archer’, is one of the world’s most recognised Paralympians (Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

With just over 100 days to go until the Paralympic Games start in Paris on August 28, AFP Sport looks at the big names of the 17th edition:

– Matt Stutzman (USA), 41, para archery

The star of Netflix documentary "Rising Phoenix" and known as the "Armless Archer", Stutzman will be competing in his fourth Paralympics and hoping to go better than the silver medal he won in London in 2012.

After a disappointing finish at Tokyo 2020, he confessed that nerves had got the better of him.

The father-of-three was born without arms and was put up for adoption but has gone on to become one of the world's most-recognised Paralympians, a professional archer, a drag-racing driver and motivational speaker.

In 2015, he set the Guinness World Record for the longest accurate shot by hitting a target at 310 yards.

– Markus Rehm (Germany), 35, para athletics

Known as the "Blade Jumper", Rehm leapt to gold at the Tokyo Paralympics and holds the para long jump world record.

Regularly a bigger jumper than able-bodied competitors, he had wanted to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, but was excluded because of concerns that his prosthetic leg gave him an advantage.

He lost his right leg in a wakeboarding accident when he was 14.

– 'Bebe' Vio (Italy), 27, fencing

Fencing icon Beatrice "Bebe" Vio has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, making her one of the biggest names in para sport.

After winning gold in Rio, the quadruple amputee, who lost her lower limbs after contracting meningitis aged 11, followed up with another finish atop the podium in Tokyo.

The Italian sensation is known for her lightning speed and banshee cries on the piste.

– Omara Durand (Cuba), 32, para athletics

The Havana-based sprinter took gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints at the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics. The visually impaired runner also holds the para world records in all three disciplines.

She has set herself the target of another clean sweep and performed the hat-trick at the para World Championships in Paris last year.

– Marcel Hug (Switzerland), 38, para-athletics

With 12 Paralympic medals already, wheelchair-racing champion Hug is already a hugely decorated competitor who looks on track to add to his haul.

He won the world championships in Paris last year, topping the podium in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m. Fellow Swiss racers Catherine Debrunner and Manuela Schaer are also heavy favourites for the women's events.

– Ryley Batt (Australia), 34, wheelchair rugby

One of the symbols of Australia's domination of wheelchair rugby, Batt also appeared in "Rising Phoenix" which helped promote the Paralympics to a wider audience in 2020.

The two-time world champion was crowned Paralympic champion in 2012 in London and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

– Tokito Oda (Japan), 18, wheelchair tennis

Oda became the youngest ever wheelchair tennis winner at Roland Garros last year when he beat British rival Alfie Hewett, aged just 17.

The current world number two has since added Wimbledon and the Australian Open to his record-breaking CV. A heavy favourite to take the Paralympic title.



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