Paralympics day seven: Highlights from Rio

(CNN)Day seven in Rio saw another 54 gold medals celebrated and more records smashed, including Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman surpassing the 300kg mark for the first time in Paralympic history.

Peerless Siamand Rahman

    Twenty-eight-year-old Siamand Rahman is the strongest Paralympian of all time.
    He lifted an astonishing 310kg in the men’s +107kg category to win gold and obliterate the world record.
    Never before had the magic 300kg mark been broken and, although there was a sense Rahman could achieve it tonight, his eventual score was completely unexpected.
    Rahman finished an unprecedented 75kg clear of his nearest rival, almost doubling his margin of victory from London 2012.
    Born without the use of his legs, Rahman’s winning total was a full 30kg heavier than it was four years ago and his latest performance adds credence to the notion he is the most dominant strength athlete in the world.
    Weighing 169kg, the reigning world champion broke the world record twice before his final lift of 310kg — the equivalent of a male Siberian tiger.


    Ticket sales surge

    It’s looking increasingly like the ticket sales concerns prior to the Paralympics were much ado about nothing.
    After announcing just 12% of tickets had been sold two weeks before the start of the Games, officials confirmed Wednesday that over two million have now been snapped up by enthusiastic Cariocas.
    The carnival atmosphere in venues across Rio has now become one of the defining images of these Paralympics and the new sales figures cement Rio 2016 as the second best attended in history, behind only London 2012.
    “Two million is a fabulous achievement,” Craig Spence, head of media at the International Paralympic Commitee (IPC), told the Rio 2016 website.
    “Bearing in mind where we were at the end of August, when 200,000 were sold, to sell 10 times that in a matter of weeks shows how the cariocas (Rio residents) have embraced these Games.
    “Rio 2016 and the public deserve a pat on the back for turning this into a carnival of sport. We are expecting to break all our records for TV audiences.”
    However, that number is unlikely to increase much with just 180,000 tickets remaining.
    “If we get close to 2.2m, we would beat our financial target and being in the two million bracket is the closest you could get to London 2012 (for which 2.7 million tickets were sold).
    “For us, the jackpot is the energy in the Olympic Park every day. That perception that Paralympic sport is cool and people are having a great time is the energy to change the perception towards people with impairment.”


    The Paralympic Powerlifters of Nigeria

    While Nigeria hasn’t won Olympic gold since the turn of the millennium, its Paralympic powerlifters are in a class of their own.
    Josephine Orji today became the ninth Nigerian to medal in Rio, breaking the world record (154kg) in the women’s +86kg division.
    Seven of those nine have come under the bright lights of Riocentro Pavilion 2 where the powerlifting takes place, as Orji joins the likes of Paul Kehinde, Lucy Ejike and Bose Omolayo atop the podium.
    All of the above have not just won gold, but also broken world records in the ultimate test of strength.
    Roland Ezuruike, champion in the men’s -54kg competition, successfully lifted four times his own bodyweight — the equivalent of the average American male lifting 355kg.
    Nigeria currently sits in an unprecedented top ten position in the medal table, but such success has prompted some to highlight the increasing disparity between Nigerian’s Olympians and their Paralympic counterparts.
    Abba Yola, the former director of the National Sports Commission, even told Nigeria’s Daily Trust he hoped the Team Nigeria Paralympic contingent would “erase the shame of a dismal showing at the Olympic Games.”
    One thing’s for sure, though — the Paralympic powerlifters of Nigeria are elevating their nation to greatness.

    Former F1 driver wins paracycling gold on eve of 15-year anniversary of crash

    He has a clear perception he had cheated death.
    With less than a liter of blood left in his body, Alex Zanardi’s heart stopped seven times and he was read his last rites by a priest on the helicopter ride from the Eurospeedway to the hospital.
    It was September 2001, and the Italian had been the victim of one of the most horrific crashes in the history of motorsport.

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