Following the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, another world sporting event takes center stage. The Rio 2016 Paralympics involve the same intensity, motivation, and skill needed in the original Games. With athletes that have fought their way through adversity and setbacks, the Paralympics feature athletes with disabilities, and a few are even Mormon.
Jason Smyth Wins Gold for Fifth Olympic Medal
Winning his third gold medal in the 100m T13 division sprint and fifth gold overall, Jason Symth, 29, defended his Olympic title from the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and the 2012 London Paralympics. Although he suffers from Stargardt disease and is considered legally blind, he never backed down from going for the gold.
In Beijing and London, Smyth also won a gold in the 200m sprint, which was not included in the Rio Games. He ran the the 100m race in 10.64 seconds, beating out Namibia’s Johannes Nambala for gold. Smyth is a member of the Belfast Northern Ireland Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Another Mormon competed in the 100m T13 sprint. Tyson Gunter from Pocatello, Idaho, came in seventh in the 100m T13 finals.
David Blair Wins Gold Medal, Sets World Record in Discus
David Blair, 40, who is from Eagle Mountain, Utah, won the gold medal and set a world record in the discus F43/F44 division with a 64.11m throw. Blair graduated from Weber State University.
Josh Wheeler Wins Silver Medal in Wheelchair Rugby
Josh Wheeler, 36, won the silver medal with Team USA in wheelchair rugby after beating Australia. After a motorcycle accident broke his neck, Wheeler lost function of his lower body. However, he discovered a sport he loved a few years after his accident: wheelchair rugby. He is a member of the San Tan Valley Arizona Stake.
Todd Hodgetts Wins Bronze Medal in Shot Put
Competing in the F20 division for shot put, Todd Hodgetts won bronze with a 15.82-meter throw. Hodgetts, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 8, won the gold medal in the 2012 London Paralympics. The defending champion competes for Australia.
Other Mormon Paralympians
Margarita Foundez competed in the 1,500m T12/13 race for Chile. She came in third in her preliminary race, just missing the finals.
Brickell Bro finished seventh overall in the 400m freestyle swim in the S8 division. Bro also finished sixth in her preliminary heat of the 100m butterfly, and competed in the 50m and 100m freestyle.
Ann Yoshida from Hawaii finished fifth in her prelimary heat for the KL1 division paracanoe, and did not advance to the finals.
Julieta Olmedo, 26, competed on the Argentine wheelchair basketball team. After losing two preliminary games, they won against Brazil before losing to Great Britain. They finished ninth overall in the tournament.
Eric Bennett, 42, finished eighth overall in his individual recurve archery competition, after finishing fourth in the 2016 London Paralympics.
The Rio 2016 Paralympics will continue competition until the closing ceremonies on Sunday, September 18, 2016.