Team USA may not be as dominant at the Paralympics as at the Olympics, but American Paralympians in Tokyo have showcased their skills across many sports and classes. The U.S. finished with 104 medals, breaking the 100-medal mark for the second straight Paralympics after collecting 115 medals in Rio five years ago.
Here are some of the top moments for Team USA at the Tokyo Paralympics:
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Swimmer Jessica Long got an early start at the Paralympics, debuting at age 12 at the 2004 Athens Games, where she won three golds. Having captured six medals in Tokyo, the 29-year-old now has 29 medals -- one more than Michael Phelps, a fellow swimmer from Baltimore who is the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Long, however, is the second most decorated Paralympian ever behind Trischa Zorn, another American swimmer, who collected an unbelievable 55 medals in seven Paralympics between 1980 and 2004.
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Former soccer player Nick Mayhugh turned to the track when seven-a-side soccer was removed from the program for the Tokyo Paralympics. He quickly showed he could be a force when he broke the 100m T37 world record in the heats and topped it to win gold in the final.
“Once I get up, no one in the world can catch me,” he said after the race.
Mayhugh repeated the feat in the 200m T37, winning the gold by lowering his own world-record time from the heats. He also took silver in the 400m T37 and gold in the 4x100m universal relay.
Oksana Masters demonstrated her versatility yet again in Tokyo by competing in her fourth Paralympic sport. She started her Paralympic career as a rower in the 2012 London Games, then competed in cross-country skiing and biathlon in the Winter Paralympics before turning to cycling.
Masters won gold in both the road race H5 and road time trial H4-5, bringing her medal total to 10. She couldn’t quite believe her own achievement after her second gold, asking, “Is it final?”
In wheelchair rugby, Chuck Aoki and the rest of the U.S. players were looking for gold after a close loss to Australia in the gold medal match five years ago in Rio, but they settled for silver again, this time against Great Britain. Aoki was chosen by his fellow Parathletes as one of the Team USA flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony.
In her first Paralympics, 17-year-old Anastasia Pagonis made a huge splash, winning the 400m freestyle S11 and breaking her own world record time in the process. She followed that up with a bronze in the 200m medley SM11.
Five-time Paralympian Tatyana McFadden has competed on the track at distances ranging from the 100m all the way to the marathon. In Tokyo, she won three more medals for 20 in her career: silver in the 800m T54, bronze in the 5000m T54 and gold in the 4x100m universal relay.
4x100m universal relay
McFadden was the anchor leg on Team USA’s gold-medal-winning relay that also included Noah Malone, Brittni Mason and Mayhugh. A brand-new event in Tokyo, the universal relay includes Paralympians from all different classes. The Americans put together a team of three world-record holders, plus Malone owns the second-fastest time ever in the 100m T12.
The U.S. women took silver in goalball as Turkey defended its gold medal from Rio in a rout, 9-2. To reach the gold medal match, Amanda Dennis led the U.S. to a come-from-behind victory in the semifinals. The silver medal was the Americans’ best finish since winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Women’s wheelchair basketball
Team USA is used to winning Paralympic gold in women’s wheelchair basketball, just as they are at the Olympics. Having won three of the last four gold medals coming into Tokyo, the U.S. women had to settle for bronze after falling to China, 41-36, in the semifinals.
Team USA executed a balanced game defeating Germany 64-51. Lindsey Zurbrugg led the team in scoring with 22 points.
The U.S. has now won a medal in women's wheelchair basketball in four of the last five Paralympic Games.
Women's sitting volleyball
For the fourth straight Paralympics, the U.S. women faced China in the sitting volleyball gold medal match. After China came back from a two-set deficit to claim the third set, the Americans won the fourth set, 25-19, and clinched their second straight gold medal on an ace from Emma Schieck.
“It’s been such a long road to get here. I’m so proud of how our team stuck together, and the girls at home, we did it for them,” team captain Katie Holloway said after the win. Two players had to be replaced at the last minute due to COVID-19 exposure that delayed the team’s arrival in Japan.
Men's wheelchair basketball
The U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball secured its second straight gold on the final day of the Games by edging Japan, 64-60. The Americans took the lead for good with 4:37 remaining. Steve Serio, the team’s captain, scored a game-high 28 points.
Mike Scott then carried the flag into the stadium for Team USA at the Closing Ceremony.