The Tokyo Paralympic Games may be over, but the memories linger!
The world was captivated by the recent Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. The competing athletes have been through an incredible emotional rollercoaster over the past 18 months due to the global pandemic: not knowing if the Games would proceed or if they could go. Regardless, they kept their heads down and trained like there was no tomorrow.
Australia’s largest ever Paralympic team included three athletes living with multiple sclerosis (MS) – cyclists Carol Cooke AM and Emily Petricola and taekwondo Queen, Janine Watson. All three had unique stories and journeys to finding their sport, plus diverse experiences of MS.
Along with the MS community, we cheered them on over the two weeks of the Paralympics and the old saying, “hard work pays off”, certainly came true!
We know many of you followed the action, as indicated by the many shout outs and comments on social media.
August 25 – Cycling Gold!
Para cyclist Emily Petricola won gold in the Women’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit and her emotional interview afterwards had us all in tears. Watch Emily’s post event interview here.
August 31 – Cycling Silver x 2!
Diagnosed with MS in 1998, legendary para cyclist and three-time Paralympics gold medallist Carol Cooke AM, took home the silver medal in the Women’s T1-2 Time Trial.
“Never, ever give up the dream, and the most important thing to remember is to believe in yourself.” Watch Carol’s post event interview here.
Adding to her gold, Emily Petricola won silver in the Women’s C4 Time Trial. Diagnosed at 27, Emily says, “Just because you have MS, that’s not what defines you as a person. It’s important to remember who you are.”
September 4 – Taekwondo Bronze!
It was fantastic to see Janine Watson work her way through several games and win a bronze medal in the women’s K44 +58kg Taekwondo!
Diagnosed with MS at 25 years old, Janine was the only para-Taekwondo competitor living with MS at the Tokyo games.
“If you want to achieve something like this, you can. You just need to be able to believe in yourself.” Watch Janine’s post even interview here.
Whilst Taekwondo is no longer an option for Janine at future Paralympic Games (due to classification changes for people with neurological conditions), she is excited for Paris 2024 and willing to give any sport a go!
We were also delighted to hear the news from the Federal Government on 2 September, that Australian Paralympic medal winners would receive the same financial payment as Olympians. That same day, we were devastated to hear about Carol’s crash in the Women’s T1-2 Road Race. Like us, many of you sent Carol best wishes for a speedy recovery.
“MS Australia wishes to thank Janine, Emily and Carol for representing our country and people with MS. All three did us enormously proud”, says MS Australia President, Associate Professor Desmond Graham.
We were lucky enough to have exclusive pre-Games videos from Carol, Emily and Janine, which you can watch here.
For more details read our pre-Games story here.