Rio de Janeiro 2016: Great Paralympic Moments

Team USA wins its most Paralympic medals since Atlanta 1996

The U.S. Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team proudly wears their medals and raises their arms in triumph.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/Courtesy U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

The U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team won its first gold medal since 1988, one of 40 gold medals that Team USA captured during a wonderful two weeks in Rio de Janeiro.

By Josh Barr

Team USA put on another incredible performance at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games, finishing atop the medal count with 115 medals, its most since Atlanta 1996.

There were highlights in nearly every venue, from Tatyana McFadden in track and field to Brad Snyder and Jessica Long excelling in swimming. Team USA members also set eight world records in Rio, including three by swimmer Becca Meyers.


Tatyana McFadden leads a pair of McSweeps on the track

Tatyana McFadden, Amanda McGrory and Chelsie McClammer drape an American flag across their racing wheelchairs.
Photo Courtesy OIS

Tatyana McFadden (center) won four gold medals and two silver medals at Rio.

Competing in her fifth Paralympic Games (four summer, one winter), Tatyana McFadden led Team USA to two podium track sweeps in the T54 category. McFadden was followed by Amanda McGrory and Chelsea McClammer in the 1,500 meter, with McClammer and McGrory switching spots in the 5,000 meter. McFadden won four gold medals and two silver at Rio, giving her 17 Paralympic medals in her amazing career.

A sweep on the hardwood

Rose Hollermann dribbles and looks to score in Team USA's 62-45 win over Germany in the gold medal game.
Photo by Loren Worthington/Courtesy U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

Rose Hollermann had 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as Team USA beat Paralympic defending champion Germany, 62-45, in the gold-medal game.

Team USA swept Paralympic gold in men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball for the first time since 1988 as both teams cruised through pool play and won all of their knockout stage games by more than 10 points.

Team USA men’s wheelchair basketball team beat Spain, 68-52, in the gold-medal game to finish atop the podium for the first time since the Seoul Paralympic Games. The women’s wheelchair basketball team beat Germany, 62-45, in the gold-medal game to win its third gold medal in the past four Paralympic Games.

A triathlon sweep

Alyssa Seely, Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell pose while biting their medals.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/Courtesy U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

Allysa Seely overcame a 90-second deficit with a spectacular run to claim gold in a Team USA triathlon sweep.

Triathlon made its Paralympic debut and Team USA completed a podium sweep in the PT2 division as Allysa Seely won gold, followed by Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell, the first American female soldier to lose a limb while serving in Iraq. The 1-2-3 finish held extra meaning for the U.S. trio, occurring on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Andre Shelby is on the mark

Andre Shelby lines up his shot.
Photo courtesy World Archery

Andre Shelby tried several other sports before finding his love for archery.

The first Black American archer to compete in the Paralympic Games, U.S. Navy veteran Andre Shelby was seeded just 12th in the men’s individual compound open event. But the 49-year-old, who was relatively new to the sport, earned a succession of comeback wins to claim the gold medal.

Brad Snyder breaks 30-year-old world record

Arms out, Brad Snyder exults after winning gold.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/Courtesy U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

Brad Snyder swam a personal-best 57.16 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle preliminaries then improved that time by just more than one second as he broke a 30-year-old world record in the final.

Following up his success at London 2012, U.S. Navy veteran Brad Snyder won three gold medals and one silver at Rio and his performance in the 100-meter freestyle S11 was one to remember. Snyder finished in 56.15 seconds, breaking a world record that had been the longstanding Para swimming mark of all time, set by U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Famer John Morgan. Snyder was honored as the Male Athlete of the Paralympic Games at the Team USA Awards.

Sitting Volleyball wins first gold

Katie Holloway and Lora Webster go for the block.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

Katie Holloway (5) and Lora Webster (1) team up for a block as Team USA swept Brazil and China in straight sets in the semifinals and gold-medal match.

The U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball team beat three-time defending champion China, 25-12, 25-12, 25-18 to win its first-ever Paralympic gold medal.

“We all could visualize the celebration,” outside hitter Katie Holloway said. “We all knew that was in the back of our minds, but how we were going to get there? We had no idea. We all climbed the mountain together. I couldn’t believe how we played. I mean, I can, but I didn’t picture it that way. It’s as pretty close to perfect as we could get.”

The squad later was named Team of the Paralympic Games at the Team USA Awards.

Roderick Townsend jumps into the record book

Roderick Townsend soars through the air.
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/Courtesy U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

Roderick Townsend’s Paralympic debut was spectacular, winning a pair of gold medals.

Just 15 months after beginning to compete in Para track and field, Roderick Townsend won gold medals and set Paralympic records in the men’s long jump and high jump in the T47 division. Townsend was electric in the high jump, with a winning jump of 2.09 meters.

It’s extremely humbling,” Townsend said. “I won two gold medals and that’s always the goal at the Games, to walk away with a victory.”

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