Following the end of the Olympic Games on August 8, we now train our eyes back on Tokyo for the Paralympic Games running from August 24 to September 5.
One hundred and sixty three nations are competing in 22 sports. Of these, Hong Kong is sending 24 athletes to vie for medals in 8 sports. Six stations are broadcasting certain events for free: HK Open TV (Fantastic Television Limited), Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (i-Cable), PCCW Media Limited (NowTV), TVB, Viu TV, and RTHK. Check the official events schedule here.
Hong Kong has historically done well at the Summer Paralympics, winning 125 medals since debuting at the competition in 1972. (We’re yet to send a delegation to the Winter Paralympics.) Most recently, at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Hong Kong won two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes.
At the opening ceremony on August 24, runner Yam Kwok-fan and swimmer Hui Ka-chun bore the flag for Hong Kong.
What are the Paralympics?
The Paralympic Games are a multi-sport competition for athletes with physical conditions that lead to a competitive disadvantage. As with the Olympic Games, there are separate Summer and Winter competitions which are held directly after the Summer and Winter Olympics.
The precursor to the Paralympic Games, The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Games, started in 1948 for World War II veterans at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England. Also referred to as the Stoke Mandeville Games or Wheelchair Olympics, the ninth competition with 400 athletes took place in Rome after the 1960 Olympics in the same city, and is considered the first Paralympic Games.
There are also the Special Olympics World Games for intellectually disabled athletes and the Deaflympics for deaf athletes.
How do athletes qualify for the Paralympics?
Athletes with a health condition that lead to a competitive disadvantage are classified into ten categories of impairment type. A classification framework based on athletes’ functional mobility ensures that display of individual skill and stamina is maximized for each event.
The following qualification methods are employed to determine athletes’ eligibility for the Paralympics:
- Placement at World Championships
- Placement at Regional/Zonal Championships or Regional Games
- Placement in other IF sanctioned competitions or designated Paralympic
- Rank on a World or Regional Ranking List
- Rank on a specific Paralympic Qualification Ranking List
- Achievement of a Minimum Qualification Standard (MQS) with or without
subsequent Quota Allocation Formula
- Bipartite Commission Invitations
- Universality Wild Cards, awarded by the IPC to athletes who have not qualified via the above methods
Who are the Hong Kong Paralympians?
Ngai Ka-cheun: Tokyo 2020 is 49-year-old Ngai Ka-chuen’s Paralympic debut. He most recently ranked 9th in Team Archery at the 2019 World Championships, and is looking for a medal in the Men’s Individual Compound at the Tokyo Games.
Nikki Tang: Tang received the 2017 Outstanding Junior Athlete Award from the Hong Kong Sports Institute. Competing in the Men’s Long Jump, a notable highlight is his 7th ranking in the Asian Para Games in 2018.
Yam Kwok-fan: Yam Kwok-fan returns to the Paralympic Games for the second time, and was one of Hong Kong’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony In Rio 2016, she ranked 8th in both the Women’s 100m and 200m sprints. A prolific competer, she took home the bronze in the 200m event at the Asian Para Games in Indonesia.
Daniel Chan Ho-yuen: Daniel had his leg amputated following a car accident in 2008. In 2009, he took up badminton. He has gone on to win silvers at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia and the 2019 World Championships in Switzerland. This year, he’s hoping to win his first gold on an international stage in the Men’s Singles – WH2.
Chu Man-kai: No stranger to first place, Chu Man-kai has achieved gold at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships and the 2018 Asian Para Games. He’s hoping to repeat his success in the Men’s Singles – SH6.
Leung Yuk-wing: Leung is one of the most seasoned and decorated athletes in Hong Kong’s delegation this year, having competed in four previous Paralympics. His career highlights include two gold medals at his first Paralympics in Athens in 2004, with another gold medal in Rio. He’s competing in both the Individual and Pairs – BC4 in Tokyo.
Yeung Hiu-lam: A third-time Paralympian, Yeung Hiu-lam most recently took home silver and bronze in the team and individual events respectively at the 2018 Asian Para Games. This year, she’s competing in the Individual – BC2.
Ho Yuen-kei: Named Sportswoman of the the Year two years in a row, Ho Yuen-kei took home gold in the team event at the 2018 Asian Para Games. She’s competing in the Individual – BC3 in Tokyo. An influencer as well as an athlete, Yuen-kei makes lifestyle content on Youtube which includes accessibility information of restaurants in Hong Kong.
Liu Wing-tung: Liu makes her Paralympics debut in Tokyo. Recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Junior Athlete Award from the Sports for Hope Foundation, she is hoping for a successful debut in the Pairs – BC3.
Tse Tak-wah: Tse is coming off of a gold medal in Pairs – BC3 at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia. He’s competing in the Individual and Pairs – BC3 at his first Paralympics.
Wong Kwan-hang: Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of two, Wong took up boccia in the hopes it would slow the condition’s progression. He took home gold in the 2014 World Championships in Beijing and bronze at the 2018 World Championships in Liverpool, both in the pairs event. He is competing in the Individual and Pairs – BC4 this summer.
Vivian Lau Wai-yan: Another highly experienced Paralympian, Vivian is returning to the games for the fourth time in the Individual and Pairs – BC4 events. She hasn’t medalled at the Paralympics yet, having won gold and multiple bronzes at the 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 World Championships.
Fleur Schrader: UK resident Fleur previously competed at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, US. She’s aiming for her first international medal in the Individual Test – Grade III and Team Test to Music in Tokyo.
Natasha Tse Pui-ting: Also a British resident, Natasha is representing Hong Kong at the Paralympics for the third time. She previously ranked in the top 20 at London 2012 and in the top 30 at Rio 2016. She’s hoping for her first medal in the Individual Test – Grade I and Team Test to Music.
Kelvin Tang Wai-lok: At the age of 24, Tang has competed in two Paralympic games. He took home gold in the 200m Freestyle in Rio, and this year he’s competing in the 200m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, and 200m Individual Medley.
Cheung Ho-ying: Cheung most recently ranked 7th in 100m Butterfly at the 2019 World Championships. She’s hoping to win her first international medal in the 100m Butterfly and 200m Individual Medley in Tokyo.
Chan Yui-lam: Seventeen-year-old Chan makes her Paralympics debut in Tokyo, having won gold in the 100m Butterfly at the 2018 Asian Para Games and bronze in the same event at the 2019 World Championships. She’s competing in five events: 200m Freestyle and Individual Medley and 100m Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly.
Hui Ka-chun: One of the flag bearers at the 2020 Paralympics opening ceremony, Hui Ka-chun notably won gold in the 100m Backstroke at the most recent Asian Para Games. The 20-year-old is competing in the 100m Backstroke.
Ng Mui-wui: Having previously won bronze in the Singles – Class 11 in Rio and two golds at the 2018 Asian Para Games, Ng Mui-wui is hoping for another medal in the same event in Tokyo. She beat Japan’s Maki Ito on August 25.
Wong Ting-ting: Recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Junior Athlete Award from the Hong Kong Sport Institute, Ting-ting is also competing in the Singles – Class 11 event. She’s already bagged a win against France’s Lea Ferney on August 25.
Chung Yuen-ping: A second time Paralympian, Chung previously ranked 12th in foil at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. She went on to take gold in épée at the 2017 World Championships. She’s competing in Foil and Épée Individual – Category B with the hopes of besting her previous Paralympic standing.
Alison Yu Chui-yee: By far the most decorated para-fencer in this year’s delegation, Alison holds seven gold medals collected over three Paralympic Games and 11 gold medals in the World Championships. She’s aiming for another in the Foil and Épée Individual – Category A in Tokyo. Alison also co-founded the Fencing Sport Academy in 2013 to introduce Hong Kong’s young people to fencing.
Justine Charissa Ng: After seeing success with a silver at the Rio Paralympics, Justine won gold at the 2017 World Championships in Rome. In Tokyo, she’s aiming for gold in the Foil and Épée Individual – Category A events.
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Header image credits: Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled