“I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long”, relishes Lucas Mazur, double badminton world champion who has assumed his status to bring the France team its eleventh gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Sunday September 5, the last day of competition. “Today I was present. Today I was the best and today I am the Paralympic champion. “
The French badiste, suffering from a malformation of the right ankle, won in the singles final (SL4 category) in three sets (15-21, 21-17, 21-15) against the Indian Suhas Yathiraj. This is the 23-year-old’s first medal; that also of a French in the discipline, since it is the first appearance of badminton in the program of the Paralympic Games.
He could have climbed the top step of the podium a second time, but he failed, alongside Faustine Noël (SL3-SU5 category), in the mixed doubles final, contested in the wake of her singles victory. Opposed to Indonesians Harry Susanto and Leani Ratri Oktila, the two Frenchmen consoled each other with the silver medal.
In singles, Lucas Mazur had done the hardest the day before by dismissing his great rival, the Indian Tarun Dhillon, his opponent in his two world finals won (2017 and 2019) as well as the one lost in 2015.
“We have given a voice to 1.2 billion people with disabilities”
With the last medals distributed on Sunday, Tokyo is preparing to pass the baton to Paris, the next host city of the Paralympic Games, in 2024, with the hope that the page of the pandemic, which has deprived the event of public, is tour by then.
“I have no doubt that this was the most important edition of the Paralympic Games, due to the pandemic. Because we have given a voice to 1.2 billion people with disabilities ”, said Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), for whom the “Paralympic movement is stronger than ever”, hours before the flame goes out at Tokyo National Stadium.
Despite unprecedented conditions, the twelve days of competition generated strong images and emotions. Those of the gold won by the Italian fencer “Bebe” Vio, then by the German long jumper Markus Rehm, nicknamed “Blade Jumper”, turned away from the Olympic Games because of his carbon prosthesis blades.
Those also of the two Afghan athletes competing in Tokyo after fleeing Kabul in extremis, which fell into the hands of the Taliban. According to the spokesperson of the CIP, it was proposed to them to carry the flag of their country during the closing ceremony, which they could not do during the opening one due to their absence.
The president of the organizing committee for the 2024 Olympic Games, Tony Estanguet, believes that Paris is ” ready “. “The CIP is so far very positive. (…) As soon as we pass a milestone, as during the Olympic handover between Tokyo and Paris, they tell us that we are a step above, that we are proposing new things ”said the former canoeist.
In sporting terms, the French record is also positive, with 54 medals, almost double the number five years ago, in Rio (28 medals). For the Japanese hosts too: beyond the coronation of the wheelchair tennis star, Shingo Kunieda, on Saturday, the delegation of 254 athletes – an unprecedented number – won thirteen Paralympic titles. It is far from their record of the Olympics, marked by their record of 27 gold medals, but a total much more flashy than the zero point at the Paralympic Games of 2016. Unbeatable, China concluded these Games with 207 medals, including 96 in gold, and is at the top of the table – as in every edition since 2004.