COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, joins the global Paralympic Movement on Aug. 25 in celebrating the two-year countdown to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
U.S. Paralympics is sharing videos from some of the top U.S. 2020 Paralympic hopefuls, distributing sport storylines, and promoting #Paralympics and #2YearsToGo across all U.S. Paralympics and Team USA social platforms.
With the Opening Ceremony to be held at Tokyo National Stadium on Aug. 25, 2020, Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Games for the first time in 56 years. Approximately 4,400 athletes are expected to compete in 537 medal events in 22 sports, including the addition of two new sports.
"It’s a very exciting time for all of our athletes, from the returning Paralympic champions, to the young Paralympic hopefuls who are looking to represent Team USA for the first time,” said Julie Dussliere, vice president of U.S. Paralympics. “We know that Tokyo will do an outstanding job hosting the Paralympic Games and are looking forward to seeing the continued growth in awareness and engagement with the Paralympic Movement.”
New events: The International Paralympic Committee announced the addition of two sports to the 2020 Paralympic program in January 2015. Badminton and taekwondo will be making their debuts in Tokyo.
Defending the gold: Team USA’s team sports were on a roll in Rio; the women’s sitting volleyball team and the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams all claimed the top spots on the podium. Additional team success came with wheelchair rugby silver, men’s goalball silver and women’s goalball bronze.
Can the sweeps repeat? At the Paralympic Games in Rio, Team USA enjoyed three sweeps of the podium in two sports. The track and field trio of Tatyana McFadden, Chelsea McClammer and Amanda McGrory claimed the top three spots in the T54 1,500- and 5,000-meter finals. In the debut of paratriathlon, Allysa Seely, Hailey Danz and Melissa Stockwell swept the medals in the women's PT2 classification. With all six women training for Tokyo, could we see more podium sweeps in Tokyo?
A league of their own: Tatyana McFadden and Jessica Long will look to continue their dominance on the track and in the pool. Both women have been competing, and winning, since the 2004 Games in Athens. If McFadden and Long were scored as their own country, they would be in the top-half of all nations based on medals won at the summer Paralympic Games. The duo has more gold medals than Greece, Kenya, Thailand and more than 70 other National Paralympic Committees.
New kids on the block: Isaac, Noah and Stirley. You may not know their names now, but get to know track and field hopefuls Isaac Jean-Paul, Noah Malone and Stirley Jones. They’ll all look to make their Paralympic debuts in Tokyo, but already have credentials to back up the first-name only status. Take Noah – he's only a junior in high school, but his PR in the 100 would have won him a gold medal in Rio. Isaac owns a world title and world record in the high jump in addition to a world championship bronze medal in the long jump. Stirley is the national champion in the 100 and recently caught the attention of the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field program after competing in the Olympic Trials in 2016.
Military veterans: Since 2008, the number of military veterans representing Team USA at the Games has increased each quadrennium. In Rio, 33 athletes had previously served in our nation’s armed forces. The cycling team had the most successful group of veterans as three veterans hauled home a total of seven medals.
From South Korea to Japan: The U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team enjoyed its most successful Games ever in PyeongChang. Multi-sport star Oksana Masters, who has already hauled home medals in rowing and Nordic skiing, will be looking to add her first cycling medal to her trophy room. Kendall Gretsch struck gold in PyeongChang, and with her sport class being added to the program for paratriathlon, the three-time world champion could be a top contender in Tokyo.
Japanese Roots: A number of U.S. Paralympic hopefuls have Japanese ancestry or other connections to the 2020 host country. Chuck Aoki, a two-time medalist in wheelchair rugby, is proud of his Japanese heritage. His great-grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, and his great-grandparents and grandparents were all placed in Japanese internment camps during World War II. After his family was released, his grandfather went on to serve in the U.S. Army. Jazmin Almlie-Ryan, a Paralympian in the sport of shooting, was born in Tokyo and lived there for two years while both of her parents served in the Air Force.
Journalists are welcome to use the following quotes from Team USA athletes for coverage of the two-year countdown:
Lex Gillette, track and field, four-time medalist
“With it being two years out, training becomes that much more important. From this day forward, I’m going to put every ounce of my energy into being in the best shape for Tokyo. Medically speaking, 2020 is said to be perfect sight, but for me, I believe it will end in perfect vision. That’s winning gold in Tokyo.”
Kendall Gretsch, paratriathlon hopeful, two-time medalist in Nordic skiing
"I'm extremely grateful that my classification in triathlon was selected for Tokyo 2020. After competing in Nordic skiing in PyeongChang, it's exciting that the next Games is only two years away. I'm excited to have the opportunity to race and look forward to hopefully bringing home a medal for Team USA in Tokyo.”
Tatyana McFadden, 18-time medalist in track and field and Nordic skiing
“I am so excited for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. I absolutely love Japan, and it is one of my favorite places to travel. What I’m the most excited about is that I believe Japan will change the face for Paralympics in a positive way. They are already using the language of Olympics-Paralympics which is a major step when we want to promote change. Each Games we are moving forward, and I believe that Japan could be the tipping point creating a domino effect of growth, education and equality for Paralympics.”
Steve Serio, wheelchair basketball, two-time medalist
“As reigning Paralympic champions, expectations will be high for our team. One of the reasons this team has been successful is because we push each other each and every day with a gold-medal mindset. Competing in Tokyo 2020 will be the event where we have the chance to win a gold medal but the preparation, both mentally and physically, has already started for this team. The work we put in while no one is watching is what allows us to put ourselves in a position to accomplish that dream of winning another gold medal in Tokyo 2020.
Brad Snyder, seven-time Paralympic medalist in swimming, paratriathlon hopeful
“I can’t believe it’s only two years until Tokyo 2020. When the Paralympic Games in Rio wrapped up, four years sounded like an eternity, but now the next Games are just around the corner. At 32, I felt as though I needed to grow somewhere outside of the pool, enjoy some new experiences and struggle through a new challenge. I found all of this and more when I started racing in the PTVI category of paratriathlon, and at two years out, I can now say that I’m really excited about the prospect of joining Team USA at Tokyo 2020 as a triathlete. I have a lot to accomplish in the next two years, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
U.S. Olympic and Paralympic broadcaster NBCUniversal is committed to promoting the Paralympic Movement and will help commemorate the countdown to the 2020 Paralympic Games with a social and digital campaign, including sharing favorite Team USA moments from the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
U.S. MEDIA ACCREDITATION FOR TOKYO 2020
U.S. Paralympics will start accepting requests from U.S. media organizations for accreditation to the Paralympic Tokyo 2020 in the spring of 2019. The accreditation process will be open to print, online and photographic media organizations based in the United States.