An illustration featuring a taekwondo athlete kicking with his back to the lens and a badminton player holding a racket looking to hit the badminton ball.

Edition 22 | Spring 2021

New sports debuting at the Paralympic Games

by Sarah Farrell

In 2015 the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced the final 22 sports contested at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, now to be held in 2021. First-time sports include para-badminton and taekwondo.


History and Introduction to the Paralympics

Para-badminton is the adaptive version of the classic British lawn game. The sport had been contested internationally since 1990, with 10 world championships to date. It is played under the laws and regulations of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), with specific modifications that will limit the overall size of the court.

Classifications and rules

Athletes can compete in either singles or doubles. There are eight different impairment types eligible to compete in para-badminton, and they are further broken down into wheelchair, standing and short stature classifications. Para-badminton follows standard BWF scoring rules. All matches are played best two out of three sets, with a player winning a set once they reach 21 points.

American athletes to look out for in Tokyo:

Katherine Valli – SH6

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

She is ranked second in singles and first in doubles with her partner Carmen Giuliana Poveda Flores of Peru. She won two doubles titles at the 2019 World Championships in Basel.

Jayci Simon – SH6

She is ranked seventh in singles and third in doubles with her partner Colleen Gioffreda of the United States.

Many top-ranked players come from Japan, China, South Korea, India, and Indonesia.


History and Introduction to the Paralympics

World Taekwondo (WT), the sport’s governing body, began developing the adaptive kyorugi and Poomsae disciplines in 2005 and 2013, respectively. Kyorugi is sparring between two opponents in the same weight class and classification. Poomsae is a combination of movements without an opponent, showing off your martial arts forms. Since then, taekwondo was introduced as a full member of the International Paralympic Committee in 2015. The kyorugi (sparring) discipline will be part of the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo for the first time.

Classifications and rules

According to the IPC, classifications in taekwondo are broken down by weight class and impairment. Only the male and female K43 (athletes with a bilateral amputation below the elbow or equivalent loss of function in both upper limbs) and K44 (athletes with unilateral arm amputation or equal loss of function, or loss of toes which impact the ability to lift the heel properly) will compete in Tokyo. In competition, only kicks to the trunk area are considered valid attacks. Three types of kicks are scored with various amounts of points (up to 4 points) associated with each.  A spinning kick with a 360-degree turn is worth 4 points, for example.

American athletes to look out for in Tokyo:

Felix Sabates #9 M-75kg K44

Cooper City, Florida

He won three consecutive gold medals in the U.S. Open Para-Taekwondo Championships in sparring black belt 75kg K44 from 2015 to 2017.

Evan Medell #1 M+75kg K44

Grand Haven, Michigan

He has been one of the most consistent athletes atop a highly competitive weight class. He won gold medals in 2019 at the European and Parapan American Championships.

Corbin Stacey #9 M+75kg K44

Cleveland, Ohio

Stacey is an army veteran who took silver in the U.S. Open Para Taekwondo Championships + 75kg K44 in 2018.

Sophie Gimeno #8 W-49kg K44

Davie, Florida

Finished 5th at the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championships in sparring black belt -49kg K44.

Brianna Salinaro #4 W-58kg K44

Massapequa, New York

She earned a bronze medal at the 2017 World Para Taekwondo Championships sparring -58kg K44.

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Sarah Farrell

Sarah Farrell | Writer | @thesarahfarrell

Sarah Farrell holds a master’s degree in sports journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in sports management from Trinity University. She is a Texas native who has fallen in love with hiking the Arizona wilderness.

Read more by Sarah Farrell.