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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics: Top 10 greatest Paralympians of all time

From the likes of Trischa Zorn to Sarah Storey the Paralympics has been a stage for some of the greatest para athletes

Trischa Zorn Paralympian

Trischa Zorn with a medal tally of 55 is a legend of the Paralympic Games (Source: Getty Images)


Manish Sharma

Updated: 26 Aug 2021 11:44 AM GMT

The Paralympic Games officially started in the year of 1960 but the seeds of it were laid down twelve years before that at the 1948 Summer Olympics in the United Kingdom. During the London games, there were events specifically organized for the World War II veterans who were diagnosed with spinal cord injuries and many consider this to be the first-ever Paralympics. Then in 1960, the first official Paralympics were held in Rome and since then it has become a stage for athletes with an impairment to showcase their abilities at the biggest stage.

Over the last six decades, the Paralympics has produced many great athletes who have made a mark at the Games. Here's a look at the ten greatest Paralympians of all time.

1. Trischa Zorn

Considered as a role model for all the para-athletes around the world, Trischa Zorn of the USA is one of the most successful athletes in the history of the games and was also inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2012.

Swimmer Trischa Zorn, who is blind by birth, made her debut in the 1980 Paralympics and her last appearance was in the 2004 edition. During this time, Trischa won 55 medals which included 41 gold, 9 silver, and 5 bronze while competing in the S12, SB12, and SM12 categories at the Paralympics.

2. Beatrice Hess

Beatrice Hess a swimmer from France, was affected by cerebral palsy, made her debut in the 1984 Paralympics. The swimmer was a regular at the games for two decades and competed in the women's S5 category. During her time, Beatrice won a total of 25 medals which included 20 gold and 5 silver.

3. Michael Edgson

Canadian Michael Edgson competed in three Paralympic Games from 1984 to 1992. Michael who was diagnosed with visual impairment is one of the greatest Paralympian swimmers and competed in the B3 classification.

During his time, Edgson won a total of 21 medals which included 18 gold and 3 silver. No other male swimmer has been able to surpass Edgson's tally of 18 gold medals so far.

4. Jonas Jacobsson

Diagnosed with a congenital injury in his spinal cord, Jonas Jacobsson is one of the most decorated shooters in the history of the Paralympics. After making his debut in the 1980 Paralympics Jacobsson won many a medal before making a final appearance at the 2012 Games. During his time Jonas won a total of 30 medals which included 17 gold, 4 silver, and 9 bronze.

5. Roberto Marson

A multi-sport athlete, Roberto Marson has competed in four different sports such as athletics, swimming, fencing, and wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games. Due to a pine tree falling on his back, Marson had impairment in both his legs.

The Italian made his debut in the second-ever Paralympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo. He has won a total of 26 medals in three different sport (Athletics, Swimming, and Fencing) which include 16 gold, 7 silver, and 3 bronze.

6. Mike Kenny

Mike Kenny was 26-years-old when he suffered permanent damage to his spine in an accident while working as an engineer in the nuclear power industry. Kenny then started swimming as it was a part of his recovery process.

Five years later after the horrific incident, the Englishman would make his Paralympic debut at the 1976 games held in Toronto. Kenny went on to become a legendary swimmer in the Paralympics as he won 16 gold and 2 silver medals from 1976 to 1988

7. Zipora Rubin-Rosenbaum

Israel's Zipora Rubin-Rosenbaum made her Paralympics debut in 1964 and dominated at the games in different events till 1992 when she made her final appearance. Zipora was four years old when she was diagnosed with polio but that didn't stop her to compete as she always considered herself an athlete.

The Israeli has won a total of 30 medals in four different sports such as athletics, swimming, table tennis, and wheelchair basketball.

8. Mayumi Narita

Another swimmer on the list, Mayumi Narita of Japan competed at the Paralympic Games from 1996 to 2004. Diagnosed with myelitis since the age of 13, Mayumi was forced to use a wheelchair because of her condition.

The Japanese won a total of 20 medals which included 15 gold. 3 silver and 2 bronze and in 2008 she was regarded as one of the world's best Paralympic athletes by the IPC.

9. Sarah Storey

Born without a functioning left hand Sarah Storey is one of England's finest Paralympians of all time. Sarah made her debut at the 1992 Paralympic Games and took up swimming as her choice of sport and competed in it till the 2004 Games. In 2005 because of a persistent ear infection, Sarah switched to cycling which she conquered as well.

On Day 1 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Sarah won the gold in the women's pursuit C5 category. With that gold medal, Sarah's overall medal tally in the Paralympics went to 26 which includes 15 gold, 8 silver and 3 bronze.

10. Daniel Dias

Daniel Dias was born with malformed upper and lower limbs and started swimming at the age of 16. After making his debut in the 2008 Paralympics, the Brazilian would also be competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. So far Daniel has won a total of 24 medals which includes 14 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze.

The tally is expected to grow further as Daniel is considered one of the favourites to win a medal in swimming in Tokyo.

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