a headshot of John Steele

A fantastic Paralympic Games draws to a close

We always knew that the Paralympics in Tokyo was going to be a truly unique Games, but with all the uncertainty in the build-up, there were concerns over the risks and negative impact created by Covid. As is the cultural norm in the Paralympic family, obstacles have been overcome, challenges have been met and expectations exceeded. What a Games!

As the competition ended on Sunday, we can now take the opportunity to reflect on an outstanding two weeks of elite-level Para sport in which Loughborough played a very significant role.

As with the Olympics, we are immensely proud of our efforts out in Japan. To end the Games with 21 medals – six gold, six silver, and nine bronze – is a phenomenal feat and is testament to the hard work of our athletes and their support teams.

We witnessed some remarkable performances, from Thomas Young’s maiden Paralympic gold to Crystal Lane-Wright’s hat-trick of silver medals, and George Peasgood medalling across two sports to name but a few.

Current student Olivia Broome will return to campus as a Paralympic medallist from her very first Games alongside fellow powerlifters Mickey Yule, and Louise Sugden. Our partners at British Weightlifting have worked so hard with these athletes to reach these goals and they too should feel a great sense of pride.

Even before the competition, every athlete, coach, and practitioner has often overcome significant personal challenge, in addition to the backdrop of a global pandemic. To then go on to perform in the manner they did, is something everyone at Loughborough can be extremely proud of.   

The Paralympics is about much more than just medals. Of course, making the podium can be a life-changing event, but for many the journey to the start line gives direction and purpose in a time of need. For two weeks in Games time, the world is challenged on its perception of ability and capability, and we now have an opportunity as a society to apply these lessons to our future lives.

Changing and shaping attitudes is central to our Para sport vision and we will continue to drive this forward with the support of key campus NGB partners and the British Paralympic Association. Our Head of Para Sport, Nik Diaper,  – who also completed a fantastic job as Deputy Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB – has made significant progress already, and we look forward to strengthening this in the months and years to come.

From the University congratulations and thank you to the athletes and staff that contributed to a wonderful Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer. I hope the rest of us enjoyed it from the comfort of our sofas and are looking forward to doing it all again with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham less than a year away!

John Steele, Executive Director of Sport, Loughborough University.

Loughborough’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games medal winners in full:

Gold: Thomas Young (men's T38 100m), Sophie Hahn (women’s T38 100m), Hannah Cockroft (women’s T34 100m), Daniel Pembroke (F13 javelin), Jonathan Broom-Edwards (T64 high jump), Hannah Cockroft (women’s T34 800m)

Silver: Crystal Lane-Wright (women's C5 individual pursuit), George Peasgood (men’s PTS5 triathlon), Crystal Lane-Wright (women’s C4 road race), Crystal Lane-Wright (women’s C5 time trail), Richard Whitehead (men’s T61 200m), Jonnie Peacock, Libby Clegg, guide Chris Clarke (4x100m universal relay*)

Bronze: Olivia Broome (women’s powerlifting -50kg category), Mickey Yule (men’s powerlifting -72kg category), Claire Cashmore (women’s PTS5 triathlon), Louise Sugden (women’s powerlifting -86kg category), Jonnie Peacock (men’s T64 100m), Olivia Breen (women’s T38 long jump), George Peasgood (men’s C5 road cycling), Dan Greaves (men’s F64 discus), Hollie Arnold (women’s F46 javelin)

*team events count as one medal.