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Taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut, with Storey leading the way.

Taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut, with Storey leading the way.
On Thursday, taekwondo made its Paralympic debut in Tokyo, with cycling legend Sarah Storey winning her road race to break Britain’s Games gold medal record.

Morocco prepared to face five-a-side Goliaths Brazil in the semifinals with four days to go before the closing ceremony on Sunday, and racing later gave way to romance in the Olympic Stadium with a surprising post-run proposal.

On Thursday morning, Zakia Khudadadi, one of two Afghan team members who arrived in Tokyo after a harrowing escape from Kabul, competed in the Paralympics’ first-ever taekwondo competition.

The martial art, which is one of two new sports at the Tokyo Olympics, began a day after badminton made its long-awaited debut.

As AC/”Thunderstruck” DC’s blared out of speakers around the arena, Khudadadi looked grim as she appeared from behind a curtain for her battle against Uzbekistan’s Ziyodakhon Isakova.

The Afghan won the first round 6-5, but trailed in the second and lost the match 17-12. In the afternoon’s repechage round, she will have another chance to advance.

Officials have stated that neither Afghan paralympic participant would talk to the press in Tokyo, citing the athletes’ safety as a top priority.

“We’ve left them alone for the previous several days to focus on competition since that was their goal to compete,” said Craig Spence, spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee.

“Now we’ll start talking about what will happen during the closing ceremony and where they’ll go next.”

Meanwhile, Storey, a British cycling icon, won her 17th Paralympic gold medal in the women’s C4-5 road race at the Fuji International Speedway.

After swimmer Mike Kenny, who won 16 golds between 1976 and 1988, the tenacious 43-year-golden old’s hat-trick in Tokyo makes her the most decorated British Paralympian.

On Wednesday, Storey set a new record by winning her 16th gold medal, and she described the next day’s race as a “nerve-wracking” but thrilling chance.

“Road races are really unpredictable,” she added. “So I’ll come out Thursday morning and try to have some fun.”

PROPOSAL FOR A PARALYMPIC EVENT

Morocco’s five-a-side squad will compete later on Thursday against Brazil, who have never lost a match at the Paralympics and are aiming for their sixth consecutive gold in Tokyo.

Morocco is the only African team playing in the event, and defender Imad Berka has stated that a podium finish would “honor the continent.”

“Being Africa’s sole representative is a source of pride, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility,” he stated before the Games.

Shingo Kunieda, a Japanese wheelchair tennis player, will compete in the men’s singles semifinal against Gordon Reid of the United Kingdom in a bid to win another medal for Japan.

Joachim Gerard, a Belgian wheelchair tennis player, was brought to the hospital on Wednesday after feeling weak, according to the country’s Olympic Committee.

The 32-year-old, who participated from Saturday to Monday, has recovered consciousness, according to a statement, and “initial investigation points to a heart problem.”

Although 275 positive tests have been recorded by organizers overall, primarily among Japan-based personnel and contractors, the Tokyo Paralympics have so far avoided any major coronavirus outbreaks.

They verified 13 additional cases on Thursday, with all but one of them occurring in Japan, as the country grapples with an outbreak of illnesses caused by the more virulent Delta strain.

Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo of Cape Verde failed to qualify for the women’s T11 200m semifinals on Thursday in the wet Olympic Stadium, but there was a surprise consolation award.

Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga, her guide runner, dropped down on one knee and proposed to her after the race. Both sportsmen were grinning when Semedo collected the award, as captured on video.

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