The world's best paralympians are in Sochi, Russia to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Games. The event begins on March 7 and runs through March 16. This remarkable display of athletic ability and perseverance is a showcase for the elite disabled athletes from around the world.
There are a total of 45 countries competing in five different events. Here's the specifics on this epic event.
When: March 7-16
Where: Sochi, Russia
- Alpine Skiing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Ice Sledge Hockey
- Wheelchair Curling
You can view the entire schedule of events on the official website for the 2014 Paralympic Games.
Nations: Take a look at the full list of nations competing here.
Athletes to Watch in Sochi
Kevin Rempel, Canada, Ice Sledge Hockey
Canadians dominated hockey in the able-bodied Olympics, Rempel will do his best to lead his country to gold in the Paralympics.
He became a paraplegic in 2006 after an accident left his father in the same state four years earlier. Rempel's accident came while competing in a motorcross event.
His father ultimately killed himself because of the depression that came from being paralyzed. His gripping and emotional story is discussed in the video from Rempel's YouTube channel below:
It's impossible to be human and not root for Rempel to succeed.
Nikolay Polukhin, Russia, Biathlon
The host country's biggest star is Polukhin. The visually impaired cross-country skier and biathlete won the most medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He captured six in all (one gold, four silvers and a bronze).
He and his guide Andrey Tokarev have a great chance to grab their share of podium finishes in Sochi.
Canada's Brian McKeever is his stiffest competition, but the home crowd may provide the extra push Polukhin needs to shine brightest.
Tatyana McFadden, USA, Nordic Skiing
If there is an athlete in the world who is more impressive than McFadden, he or she has yet to reveal themselves.
McFadden was adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was six years old by American Debbie McFadden. She has overcome family displacement and her physical disability to become the most dominant wheelchair racer in the world.
She's already a 10-time Paralympic medalist in a variety of events in that sport.
With that challenge conquered, McFadden has turned her attentions to Nordic skiing.
This might seem like an out-of-the-ordinary transition, but McFadden is an extraordinary athlete and person. Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun talks about previously "far-fetched" tasks McFadden has completed:
Doing the far-fetched is old hat for McFadden at this point. She won her first Paralympic medals before she even entered high school. As a student at Atholton, she won a groundbreaking lawsuit that paved the way for disabled prep athletes to compete side by side with their able-bodied peers. While at the University of Illinois, she traded off between dominating the summer sprint circuit and winning some of the world's most competitive marathons.
She's been a mainstay in the top 10 of the season's World Cup Nordic skiing events. Though she hasn't yet been as dominant in the snow as she was in her signature event, you'd be crazy to doubt this determined 24-year-old.
Per Walker, McFadden is about to take things full circle. She'll be performing in front of her birth mother for the first time in Russia.
Stories like these make the Paralympics just as compelling as the Olympics.