Picking what to watch at the Paralympics can be a daunting task — there are 146 medal events just in the swimming pool, for example — so we’ve selected the key highlights for each day.
From David Weir’s return from retirement, to Dame Sarah Storey’s quest to cement her legacy, plus the sports making their debuts and the rising starts of the British Paralympic movement — this is our guide to the 12-day festival.
Telegraph Sport has live coverage of the Games each day from 6.30am, plus a guide to how the Paralympic classification system works. If you’re wondering how to watch the games, see here.
Day 1 — Wednesday, August 25: Dame Sarah Storey gets Games under way
Swimming: Women’s S6 50m freestyle
Heats at 2.26am, final at 10.47am
Inspired to get involved in Para sport after watching Ellie Simmonds compete at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Ellie Robinson won gold and bronze in Rio. In this event five years ago she just missed out on a medal coming fourth in the final.
Cycling: Women’s C5 3,000m individual pursuit
Qualifying at 3.17am, finals at 6.25am
At Rio 2016, Sarah Storey became Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian with 14 gold medals, eight silver and three bronze. She is a hot favourite to win Britain’s first medal of these Games too.
Cycling: Men’s B 4,000m individual pursuit
Qualifying at 3.52am, finals at 6.50am
Steve Bate is aiming to defend one of his two golds won in Rio. The man they call ‘Kiwi’ (he was born in New Zealand) only took up the sport in 2013 but quickly established himself was one of the best in the world. The 43 year old has Retinitis Pigmentosa which has left him with a 10 per cent field of vision.
Day 2 — Thursday, August 26: Ellie Simmonds makes her entrance
Swimming: Women’s SM6 200m individual medley
Heats at 1.34am, final at 8.22am
Ellie Simmonds needs little introduction and is out to defend the two golds she won in this event in both London and Rio. She is up again Maisie Summers-Newton who was ruled out of competing at Rio due to injury. She will be the one to beat having won gold at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London when she set a new world record.
Powerlifting: Women’s -41kg
Final at 5am
Zoe Newson won bronze at London and Rio and will be hoping to get her hands on the elusive gold in Tokyo. She’ll be looking to be inspired by her hero, Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.
Cycling: Men’s C4-5 1,000m Time Trial
Final at 6am
Jody Cundy is out to defend his title won in Rio. That was one of four gold medals the 42 year old has won – while he won two in Beijing and two five years ago he had to be content with a bronze at his home Games of London in 2012.
Equestrian: Dressage Individual Test
Grade II at 8am, Grade IV at 9.53am
This will be Sir Lee Pearson’s sixth Games and he’ll be looking to add to his stunning haul of 11 golds. Among other accolades the 47 year old has won The Telegraph’s Sportsman of 2004. Defending champion Sophie Wells is out to defend her Grade IV title won in Rio. She has a lucky necklace that she wears during competitions, that luck has brought her Olympic glory in both London and Rio.
DAY 3 — Friday, August 27 : Two-sport Kadeena Cox
Swimming: Women’s S12 100m backstroke
S12 Heats at 1.06am, final at 9.06am
Hannah Russell won two golds in Rio in this event and the 50m freestyle. She’ll be hoping Japan stocks up on its spaghetti and bolognese supplies before the Games as she always eats spag bol before a race.
Swimming: Women’s S14 200m freestyle
Heats at 1.30am, final at 9.36am
Bethany Firth not only win gold in this event five years ago, but also in the 100m backstroke and 200 individual medley in a golden Games for the Northern Irish star. She has an intellectual impairment and problems with her memory meaning she might remember what she did three weeks ago, but not yesterday.
Athletics: Women’s T35 100m
Heats at 2am, final at 5.27am
Aged just 16 Maria Lyle won bronze in Rio in this event to go with her bronze in the 200m and silver in 4x100m relay. Last year she launched the This Ability Podcast, which features guests who discuss what it is like living with an impairment.
Powerlifting: Men’s 59kg final
Final at 3am
In Beijing Ali Jawad came ninth. Four years later in London he finished just outside the medals in fourth. In Rio he finally got his hands on a medal with a silver. Can he grab that elusive gold in Tokyo this time around?
Cycling: Women’s C4-5 500m time-trial
Final at 6.29am
Kadeena Cox is defending her titles five years after she became the first British Paralympian in 32 years to win golds in two different sports at a Games. On top of her gold in this event the 30 year old claimed gold in athletics, at the T38 400m, which takes place this year on September 4.
Equestrian: Grade III Dressage Individual Test
Final at 11.22am
Natasha Baker has been at two Paralympics and won six golds. If the 31 year old is to add to her stunning success she’ll have to do it without her usual coach. Due to Covid Lisa Hopkins chose not to travel with her to Tokyo, so Baker will be accompanied by another trainer, Claire Gallimore, instead.
DAY 4 — Saturday, August 28: Mixed-sex cycling and swimming
Swimming: Women’s SB6 100m breaststroke
Heats from 1.07am, final at 9.07am
Maisie Summers-Newton and Ellie Simmonds are in action for GB. Summers-Newton won silver in this event at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships with Simmonds taking bronze.
Judo: Men’s -81kg
Qualifying from 2.30am
Daniel Powell is hoping to emulate his father Terry by winning a Paralympic medal. Powell made his Paralympic debut at London 2012 but stepped away from the sport a year later, before rejoining the British Judo squad in 2018.
Cycling: Mixed C1-5 team sprint
Qualifying from 2.32am, final at 4.15am
Jody Cundy, Kadeena Cox and Jaco Van Gass will be going for gold for GB. This sprint race is completed by mixed-gender teams of three Division C riders over three laps. After each lap, the lead rider peels off, allowing the remaining rider(s) to continue on to the line.
Athletics: Women’s T38 100m
Heats from 2.38am, final at 12.01pm
Sophie Hahn, Olivia Breen and Ali Smith all go in this event for Team GB. Hahn is the defending champion, Breen is a two-times finalist but yet to get on the podium, with Smith making her Paralympic debut.
Athletics: Women’s T64 long jump
Final at 2.42am
Stef Reid will be looking to go one better that five years ago in Rio when she claimed silver. Aged 16 she was hit by a motorboat and became caught up in its propellers. As a result of her injuries, the lower part of her right leg was amputated.
Triathlon: Women’s PTVI2
Final at 8.31am
Alison Peasgood will be hoping to improve on her Rio silver medal alongside her guide Nikki Bartlett. Peasgood is visually impaired (with less than 10 per cent vision) and was recruited to triathlon from an athletics background in 2013. Her brother George is also competing at these Games, in two different sports.
Swimming: Mixed 4x100m S14 freestyle
Final at 11.47am
The mixed-sex races at the Olympics were a highlight of the Games, not least after Team GB won gold in the pool and in the Triathlon. Great Britain are the world record holders in this event from 2019 and will have high hopes of a place on the podium.
Athletics: Men’s T54 5,000m
Final at 12.24pm
Six-times Paralympic champion David ‘The Weirwolf’ Weir is looking to win in an event he last claimed gold in at the London Games in 2012. He retired from competition after the 2017 Anniversary Games in London, but returned in order to compete in Tokyo.
DAY 5 — Sunday, August 29: Hannah Cockroft in the 100m
Triathlon: Men and women PTS5
Finals from 12.30am
Four-time British champion George Peasgood looks to add a global medal to his collection, with Claire Cashmore and Lauren Steadman in action in the women’s event.
Athletics: Women’s T34 100m
Final at 2.25am
World record holder Hannah Cockroft will be looking to defend her title from Rio, but will face fierce competition from her GB team-mate (and former world record holder) Kare Adenegan who won silver back in 2016 aged just 16.
Rowing: Mixed double sculls PR2Mix2x
Final at 3.30am
Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley are the reigning world and Olympic champions in this event. Their gold in Rio came just a year after Rowles took up rowing.
Table tennis: Men’s Class 7
Gold medal match at 3.45am
World No 1 and defending champion Will Bayley looks to add another medal to his collection. He won silver at London 2012 and claimed the Olympic title in Rio.
Judo: Men’s -90kg
Medal matches from 8.30am
World and European bronze medalist Elliot Stewart aiming to follow in the footsteps of his father Dennis who won an Olympic bronze in 1988. Elliot, who is currently ranked No 5 in the world, began competing as a visually impaired judoka after he was diagnosed with keratoconus – a condition that causes the cornea to weaken – aged 28.
Judo: Men’s -100kg
Medal matches from 8.30am
World No 1 Chris Skelley has won a European title and two World Championship bronze medals. During lockdown he delivered food parcels to vulnerable members of his community and was rewarded with the UK Sport Social Impact award.
Swimming: 50m backstroke S3
Final at 9.49am
Quadruple amputee Ellie Challis will compete in her first Olympics aged just 17 – and she has already won a world bronze medal in this event. Challis is the only elite British female in her class and the only Briton, male or female, in the S1-S4 categories.
Swimming: 50m freestyle S12
Final at 10.17am
Hannah Russell won gold in the S12 freestyle in Rio and also claimed an Olympic title in the 100m S12 backstroke. She made her Olympic debut in London, winning three medals in the process.
DAY 6 — Monday, August 30: Peacock struts his stuff in the 100m
Swimming: Women’s 100m backstroke S6
Heats from 1.15am, final at 9.21am
Stephanie Millward is one of the most experienced para-swimmers on the British team, having won a total of 10 Paralympic medals – including two golds – across three Games.
Swimming: Women’s 50m butterfly S6
Heats from 1.42am, final at 9.57am
GB’s Ellie Robinson became a Paralympic champion in this event in her debut season on the international stage – and has since won medals at World, European and Commonwealth level.
Swimming: Women’s 100m freestyle S3
Heats from 2.30am, final at 11.25am
Quadruple amputee Ellie Challis (see Sunday 29) will be also be competing in this event in her first Paralympic Games. She is the British record holder over 200m freestyle.
Powerlifting: Women’s -86kg
Final at 5am
Louise Sugden went to the Beijing and London Games in wheelchair basketball – but is looking to compete for a medal n her new sport despite only switching over in 2017.
Archery: Women’s Individual Compound Open
Medal matches from 5.19am
Jess Stretton won gold at Rio 2016 in the Women’s Individual Compound W1 aged just 16 – the youngest archer at the Games. She has since changed category and now competes in the Compound Open and claimed individual silver in the 2019 World Para Championships, setting a new world record.
Equestrian: Dressage Individual Freestyle Test
Grade IV at 8am, Grade II at 11.47am
Lee Pearson, Sophie Wells, Natasha Baker and Georgia Wilson will compete in the freestyle test – where athletes choose their own routine and set it to their own choice of music.
Athletics: Men’s T64 100m
Final at 12.43pm
Sprint star Jonnie Peacock goes for his third Paralympic 100m gold medal in a row after triumphing in the T44 100m races in London and Rio. The event has been reclassified for Tokyo and now consists only of single below-the-knee amputees.
DAY 7 — Tuesday, August 31: David Weir’s second chance at gold
Cycling: Women’s C5 time-trial
Final at 12am
“I’m labelled ‘supermum’ more frequently than superhero but it’s just one of those things people call you,” Sarah Storey told Gareth A Davies in the build-up to these Games. “Ultimately, I’m an ordinary person trying to do extraordinary things.”
Athletics: Men’s T54 1500m
Final at 3.46am
The second of David Weir’s three potential medal events. The wheelchair racer was born with a spinal cord transection that prevents him from using his legs. “My spinal cord was severed. I’ve got some feeling in my lower half, but cannot lock my legs or stand up at all. I needed five operations just to straighten my feet,” he has explained.
Cycling: Men’s C4 time-trial
Final at 5.30am
Throughout his teens George Peasgood played able-bodied rugby and football and competed in triathlon, despite an accident as a two-year-old – when his calf became trapped under a lawnmower – restricting movement in his left leg. When a para sport talent ID day came along he realised he could finally compete on an equal playing field. Read Molly McElwee’s full interview with him here.
Athletics: Men’s T20 400m
Final at 11.11am
Columba Blango Jr’s father represented Sierra Leone in the decathlon at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. The 29-year-old Briton has a learning difficulty caused by clots on the brain suffered at birth.
Athletics: Women’s T38 long jump
Final at 11am
Olivia Breen, who has cerebral palsy, also entered the 100m at these Games. She made headlines recently when she said that she had been told, by an official at the British Championships, that her shorts were “too short and inappropriate”, questioning whether a male athlete would ever be asked the same question.
Swimming: Women’s SB3 50m breaststroke
Heats a 2.07am, final at 10.12am
Ellie Challis had all four limbs amputated as a result of childhood meningitis. She is entered in four events at these Paralympics, and has said she was inspired to swim after watching a dolphin named Winter, whose tail was amputated after getting caught in a crab trap.
DAY 8 — Wednesday, September 1: Badminton makes its debut
Shooting: Mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1
Final at 3.30am
After missing out on the podium at Rio 2016, Matt Skelhon said he felt “worse than after my accident in 2005 which put me in my wheelchair”. The three-time Paralympic medalist considered retiring, but opted to stick with the sport and won two world titles in 2019.
Gold medal match at 8.50am
Britain’s David Smith made his Paralympic debut in 2008, and has since gone on to become one of the most successful boccia players in history, with multiple world and European titles to add to the Paralympic gold he claimed at Rio 2016.
Badminton: Group stages
Group-stage matches from 10am
Despite being a regular feature at the Olympics since 1992, this is the first time badminton has been included in the Paralympics. Fourteen gold medals will be awarded in Tokyo, with athletes divided into six classes – two wheelchair and four standing.
Tennis: Quad doubles final
Timings available the day before
Andy Lapthorne won silver at London 2012 alongside Peter Norfolk and bronze at Rio 2016 with Jamie Burdekin. Now looking to complete his set of Paralympic medals, he has a new partner in Antony Cotterill. Lapthorne won Wimbledon and French Open titles this year alongside America’s David Wagner.
DAY 9 — Thursday, September 2: Golden Greaves goes again
Cycling: Women’s C4-5 road race
Final at 1.30am
Sarah Storey, Britain’s most successful female Paralympian ever, has completed a time-trial/road-race double at the last two Paralympics. This is her final event in Tokyo as she bids to add three more gold medals.
Swimming: Women’s S6 400m freestyle
Final at 9.10am
One of the most recognisable faces from the Paralympics, Ellie Simmonds was selected as one of GB’s two flagbearers for Tokyo. She began these Paralympics with eight medals, including double gold in this event.
Athletics: Men’s F64 discus
Final at 11.05am
Dan Greaves originally ruled himself out of competing in Tokyo when he extended his run of Paralympic podiums to five at Rio 2016. However, he changed his mind after throwing a personal best in 2018 and says he is “the best technically” he has ever been after moving to a new coach.
Swimming: Women’s S4 50m freestyle
Final at 11.38am
Quadruple amputee Ellie Challis finishes a busy debut Paralympics in her fourth event.
DAY 10 — Friday, September 3: Whitehead bids to retain his crown
Cycling: Men’s C4 road race
Final at 1:30am
George Peasgood competes in his third and final event of these Games – with hopes to emulate Kadeena Cox’s success in Rio, where she completed the rare feat of winning gold across two sports.
Canoe: Women’s VL2
Final at 2:55am
Two veterans of the canoe team, Jeanette Chippington and Emma Wiggs will battle it out in the va’a sprint event. Chippington, 51, is the reigning champion in the KL1 event, while Wiggs also won gold in the KL2 last time out in Rio.
Wheelchair tennis: Men’s doubles
Final from 4am
Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid won silver at the Rio Games – as well as silver and gold respectively in the singles – and have won all three major doubles titles this season, so are real contenders. Hewett in particular is being driven by new motivations this year, as it could well be his final Games. Due to revisions to wheelchair tennis classifications, this season could be his final one in the sport if his review into his case has a negative outcome.
Wheelchair tennis: Women’s singles
Gold medal match from 4am
Jordanne Whiley has previously had more success in doubles during her career, winning bronze at London and Rio with Lucy Shuker as well as 12 grand slam titles with various partners. But the former world No 1 and 2015 US Open champion will be looking to turn that around with her first Paralympic singles medal in Tokyo, and targeting this final. Shuker could also be in the mix.
Athletics Women’s F51 club throw
Final at 11:04am
Jo Butterfield took gold in Rio, and is the Paralympic record holder. The Scottish athlete has battled back from an elbow injury this cycle, which affected her ability to compete at the 2017 World Championships, and will be looking to defend her title.
Athletics: Women’s F46 javelin
Final at 11:26am
With Tokyo 2020 plans curtailed for a year, Paralympian Hollie Arnold found an alternative way to occupy herself last autumn by becoming the first contestant with a disability to appear on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. The 27-year-old is back to business now though, and aiming to defend her Paralympic title.
Athletics: Men’s T42 200m
Final at 11:29am
Richard Whitehead, 45, is the undisputed king of this event at the Paralympics, with two titles in London and Rio. He will have 19-year-old South African sprinter Ntando Mahlangu to challenge him though, after he ran him close in Rio at his first Games and then pipped him to the world title in 2019.
Athletics: 4x100m universal relay
An exciting new event debuts at this Games, with mixed gender and class athletes competing in this unique relay format which will be a must-watch.
DAY 11 — Saturday, September 4: Get ready for more taekwondo drama
Taekwondo: men and women
After the drama of the Olympics Taekwondo, the sport is new addition to the Paralympic Games. The events are reserved for athletes with upper limb defects. Great Britain have three athletes competing: Amy Truesdale and Beth Munro in the women’s K44 -58kg (qualifying from 2am, final at 1pm) and Joseph Lane in the men’s K44 +75kg (qualifying from 2.15am, final at 1.15pm).
Canoe: Women’s kayak (various)
Finals from 2.48am
There could be a clutch of medals on the water today as defending champions Jeanette Chippington (KL1) and Emma Wiggs (KL2), plus world champion Charlotte Henshaw (KL2) all aim to bring home hardware.
Wheelchair basketball: women’s competition
Bronze medal match at 9.45am; final at 12pm
From next year, women’s wheelchair basketball will be a professional sport in the UK, with franchises at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Loughborough University, University of East London and University of Worcester. ParalympicsGB lost the bronze medal match in Rio.
Athletics: Women’s T11 200m
Final at 11.29am
Libby Clegg, the Scottish sprinter, won the 100m and 200m events at Rio but is running only the longer distance in Tokyo. She became a mother for the first time in 2019 and has plans to retire after these Games.
Athletics: Men’s F63 shot put
Final at 11.44am
Aled Davies won the shot put and discus events in his category in Rio, but is competing only in the former this time around. Explaining how he kept up his training in lockdown, he told the BBC: “When everything was announced that everything was closing I panicked because I was like, ‘How am I going to train for this in my back garden?’ That was the problem we had. I quickly resourced everything I could. I’ve got two big apple trees in my garden, I tied a cargo net between them, reinforced it with some steel and it takes a good impact from the shot.”
Athletics: Women’s T38 400m
Final at 12:34pm
Kadeena Cox’s final event of her three in Tokyo, she will aim to replicate her historic gold at Rio – where she became the first British athlete in 32 years to win golds across two sports at a single Games, by adding to her C4-5 500m time-trial title.
Wheelchair tennis: women’s doubles
Final (time TBC)
Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker took bronze five years ago, behind an all-Dutch final.
Badminton: Men’s SL3 singles
Semi-final and final (time TBC)
Dan Bethell is the world No 2. His cerebral palsy means that the right side of his body is stronger than the left. With badminton making its Paralympic debut he could go down as one of the first ever Paralympic champions.
DAY 12 — Sunday, September 5: Marathons and closing ceremony
Athletics: Men’s T54 marathon
Final at 10.30pm (Saturday)
As with the Olympics, the athletics programme at the Games closes with the marathon events. This is the third and final of David Weir’s events. The world record is 1hr 20min 14sec, not that athletes today are likely to get close to that time amid the heat and humidity of Tokyo. After staggered starts, all five marathon events will be on the course at the same time.
Wheelchair basketball: men’s competition
Bronze medal match at 2am, final at 4.15am
Perhaps the most recognisable sport at the Games, and a competition in which the British team has high hopes. As for the rules, players are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalised for travelling.
Badminton: men’s and women’s competition
Finals from 1am
Badminton is making its debut at the Tokyo Games, with 90 players competiting in men’s, women’s and mixed competitions. British hopes rest on Jack Shephard, Daniel Bethell, Krysten Coombs and Martin Rooke.
Starts at 12.30pm
The official theme for the closing ceremony is ‘Harmonious Cacophony’. Tokyo will officially hand over to Paris, the host of the 2024 Paralympics.