By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s para-athletes will be celebrating today after winning an historic number of medals at this years’ Parapan American Games. After a week of fierce competition in Toronto, Canada, the Brazilian team topped the leaderboard taking home a total of 257 medals, including 109 gold, 74 silver and 74 bronze. Hosts Canada came second with 168 medals in total and the U.S. finished third with 135.
Brazil’s athletes will be encouraged by their victory at the Parapan Am Games ahead of the 2016 Paralympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro. There the team are hoping to capitalize on a home advantage and finish in the top five. However, the competition there will be far tougher. The United States held back some of its best players from the Games in Toronto, and next year Brazil will be competing against global paralympic powers, such as China, Korea and Germany.
In Canada, however, they dominated a number of fields. In the pool the Brazilians led the way, winning a total of 104 medals, 38 of which were gold. Daniel Dias won eight alone, securing his record as the most decorated winner in Toronto with 27 medals.
In athletics Brazil won 80 medals, including 34 golds to finish first in the sport. In table tennis, again they won overall, picking up 31 medals, 15 of which were gold. Further victories were seen at boccia (nine medals, with six golds), judo (seven medals, with two golds) and wheelchair tennis (four, with two golds).
Wheelchair rugby was the only discipline where the Brazilians did not win a medal. A bronze slipped through the team’s fingers when they lost to Colombia by two points: 50-48.
Brazil’s triumphs in Canada may well encourage people to watch the paralympic sports at Rio 2016. Organizers are hoping to sell close to three million tickets, more than the 2.7 million sold for the London 2012 Paralympics. Tickets will go on sale on September 7th.