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With the Paralympics wrapping up, we feel it is only right to acknowledge the outstanding performance of our female athletes. At the 2021 Paralympics, a milestone was reached for the amount of female Paralympian athletes, with a 42% increase in athletes. With this increase, history was made for the most female athletes to compete in a single Paralympics.

This year’s Paralympic Games was nothing short of special. The Paralympian’s stood on their own as a trademark in redefining and changing perceptions around disability. The 2021 Paralympics was made a little extra special as it overlapped with International Women’s Day. By overlapping on this significant day for Women, it allowed us to focus and highlight the female athletes who competed, as well as the officials who worked behind the scenes. 

The female athletes of this years Paralympics are using their platform to start a conversation. With their platforms, they cover a range of topics starting from mental health to shining a light on the endless possibilities you can achieve regardless of disability. This years athletes are truly using their platform and focus of the games to become new role models and inspirations for young girls all around the world, showing that having a disability does not limit you from achieving great success.

In particular, 2021 had some ground breaking teams. These teams were United States of America and Great Britain. The USA team, for the first time in history, saw more female athletes competing in the Paralympics than male athletes. The team consisted of a total of 121 female athletes and 113 male athletes. In a more incredible statistic, the USA’s female athletes won a total of 61.5% of the medals in their Paralympic team. (2) In addition, Great Britain also broke records for their team, having a record breaking number of female athletes competing. The team consisted of a total of 100 female athletes and 127 male athletes. This created a significant growth compared to previous Paralympic Games. These two teams are just a small reflection of the amazing turn out of female athletes at the 2021 Paralympics.

Overall, there was a total of 1,853 female athletes competing in this year 2021 Paralympics, setting a new record. The previous held record was at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 with a total of 1,671 female athletes competing. The incredible turn out of athletes lead to Andrew Parsons, International Paralympic Committee President, to comment on what an outstanding change it was to see.

“Although we are still someway short of gender parity, we are heading in the right direction with the number of women competing at the Paralympics almost doubling since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.” – International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons

Not only did we see an increased role in female athletes competing this year, we also saw an increased role for female officials. Typically, the role of sporting officials is dominated by men. However, this year, we saw an increase of female officials taking centre stage.

A prime example that highlights the impact of female officials was in the paracanoe competition at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Canadian Erin Schaus became the first female starter in the canoe sprint at a Paralympic or Olympic level. (5) “It really was breaking a barrier for women officials,” Schaus said. This was not the only change we saw as more women officials took centre stage. In this same event, we saw a change in roles with (5) Chief judge, Karen Simpson-Warren, deputy chief judge, Laura White (both representing the Oceania region), and competition manager, Liubov Marinova.

So, let’s give it up for our outstanding female athletes and officials that participated at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games. We only hope to see our female Paralympic athletes dominate even more at the next games in Paris 2024, alongside seeing more female officials showcasing their skills and talents.

Written By: Chiara