Tokyo Paralympics update: From Ireland's gold medal to LGBTQ+ equality

With the Tokyo Paralympics well underway and a record number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes competing, we think it's time for an update!

Irish Paralympian Ellen Keane is pictured wearing her Ireland jersey against a green background. Ellen won gold for Ireland at the Tokyo Paralympics.

As the Tokyo Paralympics began on Tuesday August 24, we thought it was time enough for an update on the Games! 

Ellen Keane has won Ireland’s first medal of the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, claiming gold in the SB8 100m breaststroke with the best performance of her life. Elle’s Paralympic debut was in Beijing 2008 when she was just 13 years-old. She won bronze in Rio, but in her fourth games, the 26 year-old used all her experience to finally achieve her goal of winning gold! 

Afterwards Ellen revealed that not everything went to plan, as her goggles filled with water as soon as she dived in, but she claimed that she may have been aided by that mishap. She told RTÉ Sport, “When I dove in my goggles filled up with water but I think that was maybe a good thing because I couldn’t see where the girls were around me.” 


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A post shared by Ellen Keane (@keane_ellen)

The record number of LGBTQ+ athletes competing at this year’s Tokyo Paralympics includes Ireland’s Katie George Dunlevy. Alongside her pilot Eve McCrystal, the duo set a new Irish record and a personal best when they came fifth in the B 1000m time trial at the Tokyo Paralympic velodrome.

Dunlevy was pleased with the Irish performance and afterwards said: “We are really happy with our race, really happy with our result because we got a personal best by 1.3 second and are delighted with the race. We couldn’t have done any more, a personal best is fantastic.”

The duo will race again tomorrow, August 28, at 2am Irish time for the qualifying Women’s Pursuit B. 


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A post shared by Katie-George Dunlevy (@katiegdunlevy)

Sir Lee Pearson of Team GB gave a heartfelt speech after winning his 12th gold medal at this year’s Paralympic Games. An icon of disability in sport as well as an openly, confidently gay athlete who has been out for decades, Pearson declared “Love has to prevail.” 

Pearson’s speech was made unprompted while he was talking about horse riding and he was asked what he thought about Tom Daley’s message to Japan’s LGBTQ+ community: “Whatever shape or form, I think love has to prevail. If you’re born with a disability, if you have a child with a disability, if you’re born with same-sex attraction, if your daughter comes out or your son, then just love them. 

“Nobody wants to be different but we have to embrace different people because that’s society, that’s the world. Those different people they’re not going anywhere. So you can say it’s illegal, you can make them feel awful, but somewhere in the world another gay boy or girl will be born. Somewhere in the world someone will be born with no limbs. Do you know what I mean? Life goes on and it’s silly in this day and age when we have countries that are still in the stone age, as we say, 100 years behind. But I’m just a horse rider. Promise.”


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A post shared by Sir Lee Pearson CBE (@sirleepearson)

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