Rio 2016 Paralympics - what you need to know

The Paralympics start on 7 September and, having always finished in the top five, the British team has a strong track record and high hopes for another medals haul 

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The first competition for wheelchair athletes - named the Stoke Mandeville Games - was held on the day of the opening ceremony of the London 1948 Olympics. In Rome in 1960, these became the Paralympic Games and included 400 athletes from 23 countries. 

Fast-forward to London 2012: the British Paralympic team finished in third place, winning 120 medals - 34 of them gold. The athletes in Rio have been tasked with surpassing that total.

A refugee team will be competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympics - a first for the Games.

Events and competitors

Team GB is competing in 19 sports - here's the lowdown.



The British archery team won a gold and a silver in the London 2012 Games. This year, the squad will be led by previous gold medalists John Stubbs and John Cavanagh. Newcomers include 16-year-old Jess Stretton, Invictus Games champion Mikey Hal, and London 2012 Games Maker Jo Firth.

Competition dates: 10-17 September


david weir

In London 2012, the GB athletics team won 11 gold, seven silver and 11 bronze medals. Among the 13 athletes picked in the first round of selections for Rio are London 2012 gold medallists David Weir, Aled Davies, Richard Whitehead and Hannah Cockroft. Two hundred metre World record-breaker Libby Clegg will also be on the squad. 

Competition dates: 8-18 September


In London, Britain won one silver and one gold medal in Boccia - which is an evolution of the ancient Italian game 'bocce', developed for disabled athletes in 1970s Sweden. Newcomers to the ten-strong team this year are Claire Taggart, Patrick Wilson, Josh Rowe, and brothers Scott and Jamie McCowan. Individual world champion Stephen McGuire and Beijing 2008 double gold medallist Nigel Murray will also be on the team.

Competition dates: 10-16 September


Canoeing is a new addition to the Paralympics, and only Great Britain and Australia have the full quota of six boats competing. The team includes two world champions - Emma Wiggs and Anne Dickins. Jeanette Chippington will be joining the squad after a run of five Games in the swimming team. 

Competition dates: 14-15 September


The British Paralympic cycling team topped the medal table four years ago, and have continued to excel since. London 2012 cyclists Karen Darke, Jody Cundy, Helen Scott, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Neil Fachie - who helped Britain secure its 22 medals in the last Games - will be making a comeback in Rio. Dame Sarah Storey, who won four golds in London 2012, will be competing in the Games for the seventh time.

Competition dates: 8-11 September (track) 14-17 September (road)


anne dunham

Having won 11 medals in London 2012, a five-strong team of riders will be competing in Rio. Between them, they have 30 Paralympic medals and 13 Games under their belts. The team includes 67-year-old Anne Dunham, who has competed in four Games. 

Competition dates: 11-16 September

Football 7-a-side

Apart from Jonathan Paterson and former Everton FC Academy player Michael Barker, all of the football team are newcomers to the Paralympics. The squad is captained by former Birmingham City player Jack Rutter.

Competition dates: 8-16 September


The judo squad won one silver and one bronze in London 2012. Silver medallist Sam Ingram will be returning for his third Games, along with newcomers Jack Hodgson, Jonathan Drane and Chris Skelley. 

Competition dates: 8-10 September


powerlifting team

Ali Jawad will lead the British squad, which includes Zoe Newson, five-time Paralympian Natalie Blake and newcomer Micky Yule - a former sergeant in the Royal Engineers, who lost both his legs while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. 

Competition dates: 8-14 September


Team GB won a gold in London 2012, and this year's squad is headed by gold medallists Pam Relph and Tom Aggar. Debuting crewmates for Rio are Olive James, Grace Clough, James Fox and Dan Brown. Rachel Morris will be transitioning to rowing from a gold-medal winning career in handcycling. 

Competition dates: 9-11 September


Having won one gold and one bronze medal in London, this Games' sailing Paralympians include London bronze medallists Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickman, three-time Paralympic Sonar crew - Hannah Stodel, Stephen Thomas and John Robertson, and Britain's first Paralympic sailing gold medallist, Helena Lucas. 

Competition dates: 12-17 September


The Rio squad includes six athletes with Paralympic experience, as well as newcomers Owen Burke, Lorraine Lambert, Stewart Nangle and Issy Bailey. The team also includes Matt Skalhon - who already has three Paralympic medals. 

Competition dates: 8-14 September


The GB squad won 39 medals, seven of them gold, in London 2012. This year's 31-strong team includes six of the gold medallists from the last Games - Josef Craig, Jon Fox, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Ollie Hynd, Ellie Simmonds and Bethany Firth. The team's youngest member, Abby Kane, 13, will be competing for the first time, while 38-year-old Sascha Kindred is on her sixth Games.

Competition dates: 8-17 September

Table tennis 

After winning one silver and three bronze medals in London 2012, the British team are going for gold this year with an experienced 12-strong team, including Sue Gilroy, who is competing in her fifth Games. The squad's Paralympic newbie is Jack Hunter-Spivey.

Competition dates: 8-17 September


The triathlon is a new addition to the Paralympics, and Britain is taking more competitors than any nation - 11 athletes and two guides. Among them are world champion Lauren Steadman, and Alison Patrick and Andy Lewis, who won European gold in Lisbon earlier this year. 

Competition dates: 10-11 September

Wheelchair basketball 

basketball team

Both a women's and a men's team will compete in Rio. All of the women's team represented GB in last year's European Championships - and have an average age of just 22.5. The most experienced among them is Clare Griffiths, who is on her fifth Games. 

The men's team finished fourth in London 2012, and are three-time European champions. The team's new addition is Gregg Warburton, while Simon Munn has already participated in six Paralympic Games. 

Competition dates: 8-16 September (women), 8-17 September (men)

Wheelchair fencing

This Paralympic Games' GB fencing team will be Piers Gilliver and Dimitri Coutya, who together won silver medals at the 2015 World Championships. This will be their first Games. 

Competition dates: 12-16 September

Wheelchair rugby


The British wheelchair rugby squad is looking to win its first medal in the Rio Paralympic Games. The team's 12 sportspeople include Coral Batey - the only woman - and Alan Ash, competing in his fifth Games. 

Competition dates: 14-17 September

Wheelchair tennis

In London 2012, the GB tennis squad won one bronze and one silver. This time, the 10-strong wheelchair tennis team includes teenage newcomers Antony Cotterill and Alife Hewett, as well as Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley, who won the women's doubles bronze in the last Games. 

Competition dates: 9-16 September

Find out how you can support the GB team with Supercharge Paralympics

Take part!

In the run-up to the Paralympics Games, there will be carnivals taking place across the UK. As well as sporting challenges and Brazillian-themed entertainment, there'll be the chance to meet Paralympians. The series of events kicks off in Stoke Mandeville - where the Paralympic movement was born - to coincide with the Heritage Flame lighting ceremony. 

Stoke Mandeville (Stoke Mandeville Stadium), 2 September

London (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), 3 September

Cardiff (National Indoor Athletics Arena), 9 September

Stoke-on-Trent (Smithy Row), 10 September

Nottingham (Old Hall Street), 17 September

Edinburgh (The Mound), 18 September


WIN! Three lucky Mumsnetters will win either a £300, £200 or £100 Sainsbury's shopping voucher. 

Find out how to enter

The Rio 2016 Paralympics are being covered by Channel 4.

All photos credit to onEditon.

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Last updated: over 1 year ago