Tokyo Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics (4)

Team USA won a stunning Paralympics men's wheelchair basketball gold medal on the final day of Tokyo 2020, providing a sting in the tail to the tournament's "Cinderella story".

Steve Serio scored 28 points and added nine assists as the United States beat hosts Japan 64-60 at the Ariake Arena, overcoming a 56-51 deficit with a large surge.

It was an agonising end to a stunning run from Japan, who had beaten Australia and Great Britain on the way to the final, their first at Paralympics level.

For the Americans, it means they have won men's wheelchair basketball gold medals at seven editions of the Paralympics.

Serio said: "Japan was the Cinderella story of this tournament, but you couldn't ask for a more storybook ending for us. We didn't get the start we wanted, but we definitely got the finish we wanted."

Japan's silver was their first medal in men's wheelchair basketball, with Hiroaki Kozai leading them with 18 points and Renshi Chokai adding eight points and a remarkable 18 rebounds.

Matt Scott, part of that triumphant basketball team, then carried the US flag at the closing ceremony, as Tokyo's tenure as hosts of the Olympics and Paralympics came to an end.

Amid the strain of staging a global event during the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan pulled off the feat and handed the baton to Paris for the 2024 Games, signing off with a ceremony that was highlighted by nods to karaoke and video game culture and included a moving rendition of the Louis Armstrong classic What A Wonderful World.

China finished top of the medals table, with 96 golds in a total of 207 medals, with Great Britain second with 41 golds among 124 medals, and the USA third, landing 37 golds and 104 medals in all.

Hosts Japan ranked 11th, with 13 gold medals, 15 silver and 23 bronze, for a total of 51 medals.

Sarah Storey said it was "truly amazing" to land a 17th gold medal as the cycling star became Britain's most decorated Paralympic athlete of all time.

The 43-year-old beat the haul of Mike Kenny, who won 16 golds in swimming between 1976 and 1988, by powering to victory on Thursday in the C4-5 road race.

Storey's latest Tokyo 2020 triumph followed her individual pursuit track success and time trial win, with the Manchester-born veteran leading a British one-two as Crystal Lane-Wright took silver.

Storey began her Paralympic Games career in 1992 at Barcelona, when she competed in swimming and bagged her first two golds.

After a stunning transition to cycling following Athens 2004, Storey has not looked back, adding 12 gold medals to the five she won previously in the pool.

Storey has been competing in her eighth Paralympics this year in Japan and said she "couldn't have imagined" enjoying such longevity and rich reward coming her way.

"It's the dream I didn't think would come true," Storey said. "I just wanted to be a British athlete, I wanted to compete for my country for as long as I possibly could, and to still be going strong in Games number eight is truly amazing.

"I never felt a weight on my shoulders. You're defending a title and it's added to a tally afterwards. I've never really felt that pressure to be overwhelming before a race. It's just each race as it comes."

She added, according to Paralympics GB: "It is the sweetest feeling to know that I go back to my room and there are a couple of gold medals in the safe to put this one with. That makes that tally very real then."

Germany's Kerstin Brachtendorf, 49, had made a bold breakaway that saw her move over a minute clear at one point; however, she was reeled in and eventually finished fifth, with Storey crossing the line seven seconds ahead of Lane-Wright.

Storey could yet target Paris 2024, having declared Tokyo will not necessarily mark the end of her Paralympics career, but Lane-Wright has reached the end of this particular road.

"Right now, I never want to look at a bike again," Lane-Wright said. "When we came up the climb I told myself, 'last time I ever have to do this'.

"When Sarah and I got away, I told her it was her gold medal. I said, 'You don't have to worry, I'm not even going to attempt to take it away from you'.

"There are times when I think, 'What would Sarah do?'. She inspires me that much."

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Village on Saturday after being evacuated from their homeland.

Khudadadi and Rasou had initially been unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban took control, but the pair managed to board a plane last weekend.

They spent the week at the National Institute of Sport Expertise and Performance in Paris prior to flying to the Japanese capital on Friday.

Khudadadi will become the first female athlete to represent Afghanistan at the Paralympics since the Athens 2004 Games when she competes in the K44 -49kg weight category in taekwondo next Thursday.

Rasouli was due to participate in the men's 100 metres T47 on Saturday, but will instead take his place in the heats of the 400m T47 athletics event next Friday.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said: "Twelve days ago we were informed that the Afghan Paralympic Team could not travel to Tokyo, a move that broke the hearts of all involved in the Paralympic Movement and left both athletes devastated. 

"That announcement kickstarted a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan, their recuperation by France, and now their safe arrival in Tokyo.

"We always knew there was a remote chance both athletes could participate at Tokyo 2020 which is why the Afghan flag was paraded at Tuesday's Opening Ceremony. Like all the athletes here at Tokyo 2020, we never gave up hope and to now have Zakia and Hossain in the Paralympic Village alongside 4,403 other Paralympians shows the remarkable power of sport to bring people together in peace.

"Our number one priority has and always will be the health and well-being of both athletes.  Over the last 12 days, Zakia and Hossain have continued to express their absolute desire to come and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"Thanks to the outstanding efforts of several Governments, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, Human Rights for All, the French Paralympic Committee, the British Paralympic Association, World Taekwondo, Zakia and Hossain are now in Tokyo to fulfil their dreams, sending out a strong message of hope to many others around the world.

"We will continue to work closely with Zakia, Hossain and the team’s Chef de Mission to ensure they receive all the care and support they need both during and after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games."

Neil Fachie and wife Lora claimed cycling golds within just over a quarter of an hour for Team GB at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Neil and pilot Matt Rotherham posted a world-record time of 58.038 seconds – smashing their previous record time – as they beat team-mates James Ball and Lewis Stewart to gold in the B 1,000m time trial.

Lora followed suit shortly afterwards; her and Corrine Hall set their own world record on the way to go retaining the B 3,000 pursuit title.

"There are days that are good in the relationship and there are days like today which we'll never forget," Neil told BBC Breakfast.

"We knew this day would be our big one. Finally, we've managed to both do it together, and to both break the world record as well is beyond our dreams.

"We hoped this would happen, but for it to actually come together is mind-blowing."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.