After a dramatic evacuation from Kabul and a secret operation to fly him to Tokyo, Afghan Paralympic Hossain Rasouli on Tuesday beat the chance to take part in the long jump.
It was not the event he expected to take part in, after qualifying for the 100m T47, but then just about everything in his world was turned upside down with the conquest of his homeland by the Taliban.
After the group overran the capital, he and his fellow Afghan Paralympic player Zakia Khudadadi got caught without coming to Tokyo.
At first, it seemed like their Paralympic dream was over. A Tokyo 2020 volunteer symbolically carried the Afghan flag during the opening ceremony of the Games, without athletes participating on the ground.
Then officials revealed that the Afghan couple had been successfully flown out of the country.
After a stop in Dubai, they were taken to Paris and spent a week at the French Ministry of Sports’ high-performance training center before flying to Tokyo, where they arrived on Saturday night.
The two are kept out of the media, and the International Paralympic Committee says the athletes need space to focus on their sport.
But IPC spokesman Craig Spence said on Tuesday that Rasouli was “very excited to compete today”.
The Afghan came out of the athletes’ entrance on Tuesday with a wave to team officials walking around in the mostly empty Olympic stadium.
Rasouli, whose left hand was amputated as a result of a mining explosion, then proudly pointed to the logo of the Paralympic Committee of Afghanistan on his jacket.
The 26-year-old finished last, reflecting his comparative inexperience in the discipline — it was the first time he had competed in the long jump in a major competition.
Yet Spence says, “it was great to see him” on a ‘special occasion’.
Khudadadi will take part in taekwondo on Thursday.
Elsewhere, there was joy for British cycling great Sarah Storey, who won the C5 time trial at Fuji International Speedway to equal swimmer Mike Kenny’s record of the British Paralympic Games’ 16 gold medals.
‘I have been preparing for this race for so long. The time trial is probably one of my favorite opportunities, ”she said afterwards.
‘This is the’ race of truth ‘. It’s you against the clock and trying to catch up with your competitors as you see it. ”
Storey, who was born without a functioning left arm, broke 76 world records and shows no sign that it will slow down.
The 43-year-old competes next in Thursday’s road race, where she will have the chance to break Kenny’s record, although she said she makes no assumptions.
“Road races are so unpredictable,” Storey said.
‘So Thursday morning I come out to have fun and watch the cookie crumble.
There was also joy for Cuba’s “queen of speed” Omara Durand Elias, who won her sixth Paralympic gold in the 400 m T12.
The 29-year-old, who is visually impaired and runs with a guide, said there is no magic recipe for her track dominance.
‘My secret is sacrifice for training and good coaching. That’s all, ”said the Cuban, who will take part in the 100 m final tomorrow and is also aiming to reach Saturday’s 200 m final.
On a day with 61 golds in five sports, there was a serious disappointment for American “armless archer” Matt Stutzman, one of the world’s most recognizable Paralympic players.
He missed a medal in the men’s open class on Tuesday when he fell in the last 16 games, with a performance that was far below his best.
“I felt like shit. That is the polite way to say it, ”he later admitted.
“It was one of my worst scores I’ve shot in at least five years.”
But the 2015 world champion said he was down, but not out.
“I’m going back to Paris (2024) and my ultimate goal is to represent the United States in LA (2028), this will be my last Games,” he said.