In terms of disability sports, the Paralympic Games have to be regarded as the pinnacle of competition, with the achievement of being awarded a Paralympic medal the ultimate recognition and honour for a Paralympic athlete.
But who are the most successful Paralympic athletes and countries?
Which are the most successful countries?
The top three medal-winning countries are:
- China – 239 Paralympic medals
- Great Britain – 147 Paralympic medals
- Ukraine – 117 Paralympic medals
These three countries dominated the podium at the last Paralympic Games.
Who are the Paralympians with the most medals?
At an individual level, the three Paralympic athletes that stand out most in this select group of history’s most decorated medal winners were three of the most outstanding performers from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
- Brazilian swimmer, Daniel Dias, scooped nine medals – 4 golds, 3 silver and 2 bronze
- Russian sprinter, Tatyana McFadden, scored 4 gold medals
- Spanish swimmer, Teresa Perales, also won 4 medals – 1 gold and 3 silver.
Who are the Paralympic athletes with the most podium finishes?
Over the years there have been certain Paralympic athletes who have claimed medals with podium finishes in excess of twenty times each (a feat that is rarely achieved by Olympic athletes)! This is partly due to the fact that Paralympic athletes tend to compete in various categories at each Paralympic event and also enjoy longer professional careers.
Swimmer Trischa Zorn is visually impaired and is often regarded as a role model for Paralympic athletes. Born in Orange County (USA) in 1964, she has participated in seven Paralympic Games, most notably in Seoul in 1988, where she won ten individual and 2 team gold medals. In total she has won over 50 Paralympic medals: 41 golds, 9 silver and 5 bronze.
The Swede, Jonas Jacobsson is considered one of the best marksmen in the world, a claim backed by his extensive achievements. Paralysed from the waist down, he has amassed no fewer than thirty medals (17 golds, 4 silver and 9 bronze) between 1980 and 2012 and has won at least one gold in each of his Paralympic events.
It is no surprise to find that he is a celebrity in his home country and that he has received the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal, the highest honour that can be granted to a Swedish athlete.
No list of the top Paralympic athletes would be complete without the Spanish swimmer, Teresa Perales. Hailing from Zaragoza and with no mobility in her lower limbs, the swimmer has a total of twenty-seven medals to her name from five Paralympic Games (7 golds, 10 silver and 10 bronze), making her a world class athlete and one of the most remarkable Spanish sportswomen of all time.
Roberto Marson was one of the most versatile Paralympic athletes in history, boasting twenty-six Paralympic medals. In fact, during the Tokyo Games in 1964 he took part in three disciplines (athletics, fencing and wheelchair basketball) gaining 3 golds, 4 silver and 1 bronze to become one of the most outstanding Paralympic athletes ever. However, his finest moment came in Tel Aviv in 1968, where he went on to achieve the even greater feat of making thirteen podium appearances (10 golds, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals). Born in Rome in 1944, Marson retired in 1982 and passed away in 2011.
Nicknamed Torpedo, French swimmer Beatrice Hess, who has cerebral palsy, has won a medal in each of her Paralympic appearances and is especially remembered for his display in Sydney 2000, where she set an astonishing nine world records. Her tally boasts a total of twenty-five Paralympic medals: 20 golds and 5 silver.
Daniel Dias is one of the most promising Paralympic athletes. Daniel was born with a congenital deformity of his arms and his right leg, but at the age of twenty-eight he has competed in three Paralympic Games (Beijing, London and Rio) achieving a total of twenty-four medals, including 14 golds, 7 silver and 3 bronze. Winning nine of them in Rio de Janeiro made him the pride of his fellow Brazillians. Given his age, there is still time for this young man to go on to become one of the most decorated Paralympic medallists in history.
Equestrian rider Lee Pearson was born in Stoke in 1974 and has Anthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC). This has not prevented him from representing his country in four Paralympic Games (Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London) in horse riding events. But his record goes even further: as well as his fourteen Paralympic Games medals, he has also been world champion fourteen times and has won nine European championship medals.
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