Australia

Your daily guide to the Games: Competition gets underway in Tokyo

The wait is over, and the Tokyo Paralympics get going today with the first of 11 days of competition.

Australia’s 179-strong team will be competing in 18 of the 22 sports in Tokyo, and will be the largest Australian team ever sent to an overseas Games. 

The Tokyo Olympics are broadcast in Australia on free-to-air TV on Channel Seven, as well as streaming platform 7Plus.

Here are some highlights to watch out for on day one. All times listed are AEST.

Cycling track: Paige Greco in the women’s C1-2-3 individual pursuit

Racing begins at the Izu Velodrome this morning, with action on the track.

Day one focuses on individual pursuit events, with the women’s C1-2-3, C4 and C5 classifications — which are held over a distance of 3,000m for athletes with a range of physical impairments — and the men’s B 4,000m event for vision-impaired athletes.

There are three Australians in action – Paige Greco (C3), Meg Lemon (C4) and Emily Petricola (C4).

Greco, who won gold medals in individual pursuit at the 2019 world titles, will be up in heat 7 against Germany’s Denise Schindler. Riders with the top two times overall will race for a gold medal, and the third- and fourth-fastest will race for bronze. 

The qualifying session begins at 11:00am, while the finals will run from 2:45pm to 3:57pm. 

Swimming: heats

Swimming is one of the biggest Paralympic sports for Australia, with 34 competitors in Tokyo.

The action in the pool gets underway this morning from 10:00am. Unlike the Olympics, the Paralympic swimming schedule has the more familiar look of heats in the morning, and finals at night.

There are 16 Australians beginning their campaigns today.

An Australian Paralympic swimmer blows a kiss to the crowd after winning a medal.
Ellie Cole won silver in the women’s S9 400m freestyle in Rio. She will look to be on the podium again on day one in Tokyo.(

Getty Images: Friedemann Vogel

)

Some of the names to look out for include world record-holder Brenden Hall and Alexander Tuckerfield in heat one of the men’s S9 400m freestyle at 10:00am; Ellie Cole and Lakeisha Patterson in heat two of the women’s S9 400m freestyle at 10:21am; Rowan Crothers and Tom Gallagher in the men’s S10 50m freestyle heats from 11:27am; Keira Stephens in the women’s S10 50m freestyle heats from 11:33am; Liam Schluter (heat one) and Ben Hance (heat two) in the men’s S14 100m butterfly from 11:55am; and Ben Popham in the men’s S8 100m freestyle from 12:21pm.

For those who are successful in getting through, the finals session will get going at 6:00pm AEST. 

One international star in the water today is Brazil’s Daniel Dias, the most successful male Paralympic swimmer ever, with 24 career medals, 14 of them gold. He needs two gold medals in Tokyo to equal the mark of Great Britain’s Mike Kenny, who won 16 gold in the pool. Dias will swim his first event, with the first heat of the men’s S5 200m freestyle at 11:56am AEST.

Wheelchair basketball: Gliders face Japan

Wheelchair basketball is open to athletes with a range of physical impairments — not all use a wheelchair in daily life.

Players are ranked on their functional ability, from 1.0 for the lowest level of mobility, to 4.5 for the highest.

Australia’s women’s team, the Gliders, have won four medals at the Paralympics — three silver and one bronze. Australia did not qualify for the women’s competition in Rio, however they are back in the mix for Tokyo.

The Gliders will get their campaign underway today at 6:00pm against the hosts, Japan. They are in group A along with Great Britain, Germany and Canada.

It is a largely new Gliders squad, with only two players with previous Paralympic experience, Sarah Vinci (1.0) and Amber Merritt (4.5). 

Defending Paralympic champions the United States were drawn in group B alongside world champions the Netherlands, China, Spain and Algeria. The big match of the day will be at 12:15pm, when the US takes on the Netherlands.

Wheelchair rugby: The Steelers v Denmark 

If you like your Paralympic action with plenty of big hits, then look no further than wheelchair rugby, which begins today at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

The Australian team, the Steelers, will be going for a third-straight Paralympic title after winning gold in London and Rio.

Japan beat Australia in the gold medal game at the world titles in 2018, and they will have home court advantage.

An American wheelchair rugby player tries to take the ball off Austrlaia's Ryley Batt.
Australia’s Ryley Batt is a hard man to get the ball off in wheelchair rugby.(

Getty Images: Buda Mendes

)

Australia is led by Ryley Batt, who carried the flag with Danni Di Toro  at last night’s opening ceremony — who will be playing her opening match in table tennis.

Like wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby players are classified on functional ability. Batt has the top classification of 3.5, and he will be the go-to man again in Tokyo.

Shae Graham (2.5) will make history as the Steeler’s first-ever female player at the Paralympics. 

The Steelers will face Denmark first up, at 12:40pm.

Other events to begin today include goalball, table tennis and wheelchair fencing.


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