Everything you need to know about Latter-day Saints in the Tokyo Paralympics

Olympic athletes may be long gone from Tokyo, but the Paralympic athletes are just getting started. These athletes from around the globe are getting ready to compete in the dream of a lifetime over the coming weeks, and among them are a handful of Latter-day Saints. Here's a list of who's competing at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Do you know of someone we missed? Please send us an email at editor@ldsliving.com.

Editor’s note: For specific competition times, visit the official Tokyo 2020 Paralympics page. All dates listed below are in Japan Standard Time. While the information in this article has been reformatted, much of it is credited to the Church News. Read more of their Olympic coverage here.

► You may also like: How these 8 Latter-day Saint Olympians competing in Tokyo have shared their faith online

Lourdes Alejandra Aybar | Breaststroke, freestyle, and butterfly swimming | Dominican Republic

Stats: Aybar learned to swim when she was 26 years old after she injured her knee. Now, 6 years later, she's competing in the Paralympics. Aybar is just 4 feet 3 inches tall and has brittle bone disease. She was also chosen as a flag bearer for her country of the Dominican Republic during the opening ceremonies for the Paralympic Games.

Watch: The women's 100-meter breaststroke SB6 (for lower limb impairment) division heats and finals will all take place on August 28, the 50-meter freestyle S8 heats and finals will take place on September 1, and the 100-meter butterfly S8 heats and finals are on September 3.

Eric Bennett | Pararchery | USA

Stats: Bennett is from Surprise, Arizona and will be competing in his fourth Paralympic games in Tokyo. He is also a high school physics and engineering teacher and competes in pararchery by using his mouth to pull back his arrow. He lost his right arm above the elbow in a car accident when he was 15 years old.

Watch: The preliminary round of the men's recurve division starts August 27. The open tournament begins on September 3. 

David Blair | Discus | USA

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David Blair | Men's Discus F44 Final | GOLD | 2016 Paralympic Games

StatsDavid Blair won a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He was born with a club foot, but went on to become state champion in discus in high school and earn an athletic scholarship to Weber State University. He gave up the sport for 16 years, but, incredibly, qualified for Rio in 2016 and has since set Paralympic records in his event.

Watch: The men's F64 (for lower limb impairment) discus throw final will take place on September 2.

Margarita Faúndez | 1500-meter running | Chile

Stats: Santiago Chile native Margarita Faúndez was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative eye disorder, when she was just 5 years old. She competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and won bronze at the 2019 Parapan American Games in the 1,500-meter race T11 division.

Watch: The women's 1,500-meter T11 (for visual impairments) preliminary heats will take place on August 29.

Todd Hodgetts | Shot put | Australia

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Get To Know Australian Athlete - Todd Hodgetts

Stats: Hodgetts won bronze in the F20 shot put in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. His nickname is "The Hulk" and he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was 8 years old.

Watch: The men's F20 (for intellectual impairments) shot put final will take place on August 31.

Shelby Jensen | Wheelchair fencing | USA

Stats: Shelby Jensen grew up in Salt Lake City and had a stroke when he was 7 years old, limiting her mobility on the right side of her body. She started fencing when she was 15 years old and has since won national and world championships in parafencing saber, parafencing epee, and parafencing foil.

Watch: The individual saber competition will be on August 25, and individual epee will take place on August 26. The women’s team epee events will be on August 27, and team foil events will take place on August 29. 

Tupou Neiufi | Backstroke | New Zealand

Stats: According to Newsroom, 20-year-old Tupou Neiufi was in a hit-and-run accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was just two years old, leaving her completely paralyzed on her left side. After spending years of therapy learning how to walk again, one of her therapists suggested swimming—and the rest is history, quite literally.

Watch: The women’s S8 100-meter backstroke heats and final will take place on August 27.

Jason Smyth | 100-meter sprint | Ireland

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Jason Smyth— a Mormon, Husband, and a Paralympic Champion

Stats: Jason Smyth already has three gold medals in his event, the 100-meter T13 race, from the Beijing, London, and Rio Games. He is legally blind and was diagnosed with Stargardts disease when he was 8 years old.

Watch: The men's 100-meter T13 (for visually impaired) race heats and finals will take all place on August 29.

Taylor Talbot | 100-meter and 400-meter sprint | USA

BYU-Idaho Radio · An interview with Taylor Talbot
StatsTalbot is just 20 years old and competing in her first Paralympic Games. She is legally blind and has a degenerative eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. She was named a Paralympic All-American in 2017 by the Oregon School Activities Association and graduated from BYU Idaho last December. She also told the Rexburg Standard Journal that she plans to serve a mission after the Paralympics.

Watch: The women's 100-meter T13 (for visually impaired) preliminary heats and finals will occur on August 31. The 400-meter T13 heats will take place on September 2 and the final race will be on September 4.

Payden Vair | Sitting volleyball | Canada

StatsVair played soccer in high school in Cardston, Alberta and college in Lethbridge, Alberta where she was named Rookie of the Year in 2018. A lawn-mower accident between school semesters necessitated the amputation of her right leg below the knee. She joined Team Canada's sitting volleyball team in 2019.

Watch: The women’s team preliminary games begin August 27. 

Josh Wheeler | Wheelchair rugby | USA

Stats: Wheeler competed with Team USA's wheelchair rugby team in 2016 in Rio and won a silver medal. He has no function of his lower body and minimal use of his right arm after he was in a motorcycle accident and broke his neck. Wheeler is from Tucson, Arizona.

Watch: The wheelchair rugby events start on August 25 with the preliminary pool events, and medal matches will take place on August 29.

Daryl Walker | Goalball | USA

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Three-time Paralympian Daryl Walker found his calling in goalball

What is goalball? It's a team sport specifically designed for athletes with vision impairments. Played on a court that looks like a basketball court combined with a soccer pitch, two teams of three players each roll a basketball size ball with bells inside over the opponent's goal line. The opponents listen for the oncoming ball and attempt to block it with their bodies.

Stats: Walker is from Fort Wayne, Indiana and also competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympics where Team USA won silver. He has albinism and is legally blind.

Watch: Team USA’s first match will be against Brazil on August 26. They will also play Japan on August 27, Great Britain on August 28, and Lithuania on August 30.

Lead image: Instagram

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