Paralympic Games draw to a close

China win comfortably but death of Iranian cyclist mars ending

Afp September 18, 2016
Athletes from France hold a banner with "Thank you Brazil" written during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: Rio yesterday closed a Paralympic Games that many feared would be a fiasco but which turned into a triumph, though marred in the final hours by the death of an Iranian cyclist.

Eleven days of competition where China dominated the medals table, followed by Britain, Ukraine and the United States, ended yesterday with the last few events, including marathons and wheelchair rugby.

At the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana football stadium Brazilian officials were officially to hand over to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Iranian cyclist death casts pall over Games

The upbeat mood in Rio, however, was darkened late on Saturday by the death of Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, 48.

The athlete, who wore a prosthesis on his left leg, fell during a mountainous descent in the road race and died before he could be treated in hospital.

Philip Craven, the International Paralympic Committee president, called the tragedy “truly heart-breaking”.

The Iranian flag flew at half-mast in the Athletes’ Village and a minute’s silence was planned at the closing ceremony.

Paralympians, favela kids find mutual respect

The Japanese say that the Rio Games have set a high standard for them to follow. “We have been impressed by our experience across both the Olympic and Paralympic Games and inspired by the passion of the Carioca,” said Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, referring to Rio residents by their nickname.

Once more it was China that dominated overall, with almost 100 medals more than its nearest rival, Britain, which held a comfortable second place. The big country missing in the top section of the standings, however, was Russia which during the London Games won 102 medals, including 36 golds.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2016.

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