Paralympics closes with cyclist tribute


The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was brought to a close inside a packed Maracana Stadium on Sunday evening.

Singers, dancers and fireworks lit up the iconic stadium before tributes were paid to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday.

Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president, said the movement was “united in grief”.

Referring to the success of the Games, Craven said the Rio Paralympics were “uniquely Brazilian and wondrous”.

Britain finished the Games with 147 medals, 61 of them gold. They were second behind China, who claimed 107 golds and 239 in total.

Craven thanked organisers, athletes and spectators after passing the Paralympic flag to the governor of Tokyo, which hosts the next Games in 2020.

Craven was also warmly applauded when bestowing the Paralympic Order on the Brazilian city – his organisation’s highest honour.

Standing alongside Craven, Carlos Nuzman, the president of Rio’s organising committee, was cheered when he exclaimed: “Mission accomplished.

“The Brazil we love so much has shown the world what it can do.

“This celebration started with a dream. It was 20 years in the making. Many thought it was impossible. But not for Rio and Brazil.

“The impossible happened. Brazilians never give up.”

Cyclist Golbarnezhad’s death is the first in competition at a summer Olympics or Paralympics since Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen in the 100km team time trial at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

“Tonight is a celebration of the last 12 days of sport but it’s also a very sombre occasion following Saturday’s extremely tragic events,” said Craven.

“The passing of Bahman Golbarnezhad has affected us all and left the whole Paralympic movement united in grief.”

As well as the closing ceremony tribute, flags were lowered to half-mast as Iran won gold on Sunday afternoon in the sitting volleyball gold-medal match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the final events of the Games.

Flags have also been lowered around the Paralympic village.

An investigation into the crash has begun, the IPC said.

Rio gold medallist Kadeena Cox, who won titles in athletics and cycling, carried the flag for ParalympicsGB at the closing ceremony.

The 25-year-old is the first Briton to win titles in two sports at the same Games since Seoul 1988.

As flagbearer, Cox represented one of the most successful British Paralympic teams in history, having ensured their best medal haul since 1988.

Dame Sarah Storey won her third and GB’s 60th gold medal of the Games on Saturday, with the tally reaching 64 golds by the end of the day.

During the closing ceremony, Storey was presented to the crowd after being elected to the IPC Athletes’ Council.


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