With Rio 2016 fast approaching, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will be naming its Ones to Watch athletes for September’s Paralympic Games over the next 11 days, starting on Monday (4 January) with athletes in archery and wheelchair tennis.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which run from 7-18 September, will see up to 4,350 athletes from around 170 countries compete in 528 medal events across 22 different sports.
In an effort to make it easier for the public and media to understand which athletes to look out for at Rio 2016, the IPC between 4-15 January will be announcing Ones to Watch in all 22 sports, revealing athletes in two sports each day.
The Ones to Watch athletes looking to make an impact on the biggest stage of all in 2016 in archery and wheelchair tennis are as follows:
David Drahoninsky (CZE)
Having won silver and bronze medals at previous World Championships, Drahoninsky finally claimed his first world title in 2015 by winning the men’s W1 compound category. The world No.1 was a silver medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games but won gold at Beijing 2008.
Ouk Soo Lee (KOR)
The 1996 Paralympic champion returned to form in 2015 winning the world title in the men’s compound open. The world No.5 made his Paralympic debut at Barcelona 1992 but has not won a Paralympic medal since Sydney 2000.
Matt Stutzman (USA)
The “Armless Archer” won silver at London 2012 in the men’s individual compound open. In December 2015 he hit a target from 310 yards, breaking the longest Guinness-ratified distance by any athlete or individual in the world.
Zahra Nemati (IRI)
After becoming the first Iranian woman to win a Paralympic gold with success at London 2012, Nemati is aiming to compete in both Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games having already secured qualification slots for both events.
Eleonora Sarti (ITA)
The world No.1 and world record holder won one gold and two bronze medals at the 2015 World Archery Para Championships just two years after making her international breakthrough. Her 2015 world title came in the women’s compound open.
Hwa Sook Lee (KOR)
The Beijing 2008 Paralympic champion in the women’s individual recurve standing was a team bronze medallist at the 2014 2015 World Archery Para Championships. She made her international debut in 2001 and has been a regular model contender ever since.
Shingo Kunieda (JPN)
The most successful man to play wheelchair tennis won three singles Grand Slam titles in 2015, finished the year as world No.1 and lost just two matches all season. At Rio 2016 he will be looking for his third successive Paralympic singles title.
Stephane Houdet (FRA)
The former world No.1 is gearing up for his third Paralympics in Rio where he will be looking to improve on the singles silver medal he won at London 2012. In 2015 he won two doubles Grand Slam titles with victory at the Australian Open and US Open.
Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)
Consistently ranked amongst the world’s best players, Fernandez won his first doubles Grand Slam title in 2015 with victory at Wimbledon. He also retained his Parapan American Games singles title at Toronto 2015 and won doubles gold with compatriot Ezequiel Casco.
Yui Kamiji (JPN)
Kamiji topped the world rankings in 2014 and completed the doubles Grand Slam with British partner Jordanne Whiley. Her 2015 singles form was mixed. She was Australian Open runner-up, reached the Roland Garros semi-finals and lost in the US Open final to Whiley.
Jiske Griffioen (NED)
In 2015 Griffioen established herself as the world’s No. 1 winning two out of three singles Grand Slams. She won the Australian Open and months later Roland Garros. Rio 2016 will be her fourth Paralympic Games, having made her first appearance at Athens 2004.
Aniek van Koot (NED)
She finished 2015 as the world No.2 behind Griffioen who beat her in final at Roland Garros and Australian Open semi-finals. At London 2012 her first Paralympics, she won silver in both the singles and doubles.
Dylan Alcott (AUS)
Alcott toppled David Wagner as the world No.1 in the quads division after beating the US player to the Australian and US Open titles. He is a former wheelchair basketball player who was part of the Australian gold medal winning team at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
David Wagner (USA)
Rio 2016 will be Wagner’s fourth Paralympic Games having made his debut in Athens in 2004.
In his three previous Games, he won three gold medals in the quads division – all in doubles. Up until 2015 he was the world No. 1 but has slipped down a spot since the emergence of Australia’s Dylan Alcott.
On Tuesday (5 January), the IPC will reveal the Ones to Watch athletes in cycling and wheelchair rugby.