Adam Peska wins Best Male Debut athlete at the 2021 Paralympic Sport Awards.
The awards recognises achievements from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games across seven categories: Best Female, Best Male, Best Female Debut, Best Male Debut, Best Team, Best Official, and bp Courage Award.
Adam won Boccia gold in the final of the individual BC3 at Tokyo 2020. He managed to win all his matches and claimed gold with a tiebreaker against Greek legend Gregorios Polychronidis.
“It was one of the best feelings in my sports career, and I would like to thank our National Paralympic Committee and all supporters.
“Participating at the Paralympic Games was one of my highest dreams. I was a little nervous, but I felt I needed to play like there is no tomorrow. Greg is an experienced player, and he was number one for many years. I just wanted to enjoy that match.
“I would like to tell others never to surrender your dream or delay it. I want to thank my opponents as they are a great inspiration to me.”
Dutch Wheelchair Tennis player Diede de Groot won the Best Female category after taking the Tokyo 2020 women’s singles and doubles titles without dropping a set in either competition. She became the first Wheelchair Tennis player to complete the calendar Golden Slam (winning all four Grand Slam titles and the Paralympic gold medal).
Swiss Wheelchair Racer Marcel Hug took the Best Male award. He made a gold sweep in all the four events – 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, and the marathon – in the highly competitive T54 Wheelchair Racing class. The ‘Silver Bullet’ in the process also set a new World record in the 1,500m and a Paralympic record in the 5,000m heats.
The British Wheelchair Rugby team bagged the Best Team award. Great Britain’s gold medal win was historic in many ways: first Wheelchair Rugby gold for GB at a World or Paralympic level; first European team to make the gold medal match; first Paralympic gold for GB in a team sport; and Kylie Grimes became the first woman to win Paralympic gold in the history of the sport.
Indian shooting Para sport athlete Avani Lekhara took the Best Female Debut and became the first ever female Paralympic gold medallist from India. The 19-year-old broke the Paralympic record and equalled the World record in the women’s 10m SH1 air rifle standing final. She also won bronze in the women’s 50m SH1 air rifle standing event to become the first Indian female to win two medals in the Paralympics. It was also India’s first Paralympic medal in shooting.
The Best Official award went to German Dr Anja Hirschmueller, who was the lead medical official for the German team looking after a team of eight medical directors and 19 physios. Her most notable contribution to the Games was that she helped save the life of Belgian tennis player Joachim Gerard – she provided his initial medical response following the player’s cardiac arrest in the Paralympic Village.
The bp Courage award was won by Russian Paralympic Committee’s Viktoriya Potapova, who won judo bronze in the women’s -48kg at Tokyo 2020. At the age of two, Potapova was diagnosed with a malignant tumour of the eye and by the age of 10 she had lost her vision. Her life changed when she took up judo and she was able to compete at three Paralympic Games from 2004-2012, taking bronze each time. However, in 2017 Potapova was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. She underwent two operations, where they removed the upper jaw, part of the bones of the nose, part of her eye socket and all affected soft tissues. Not only did she beat cancer again, but she used it as the motivation to get to another Paralympics, taking bronze once again in Tokyo.
Congratulations to all the winners! You can watch the 2021 Paralympic Sports Awards here.