The Paralympics come to Paris in 2024

Record-breaking Paris 2024 to be homely affair, says Wandsworth’s Aaron McKibbin

Commencing on 28th August and running until 8th September, the 2024 rendition of the Paralympics in Paris are a date for everyone’s calendar.

The world’s premier athletes will descend upon the French capital hoping for glory, and we may see a record number of of those competing.

Having increased tenfold from the first Paralympic Games in Rome 1960, Tokyo 2020 reached record heights with nearly four and a half thousand athletes battling it out, according to Statista.

The hope is that Tokyo’s participant tally will be toppled in France, and these athletes’ feats will also be viewed by a record number of different global broadcasts.

Not only are Kosovo and Tuvalu expected to make their debut, but the Olympic Broadcasting Services will provide live telecasts for all 22 Paralympic sports in Paris – an increase from 19 in Tokyo and a new record.

For Britons, the short trip over the water to the games is a far simpler journey than that undertaken to Japan in 2020.

Table tennis star Aaron McKibbin will be heading over in August, and will enjoy the fact that these record-breaking games should be much closer to home, both literally and figuratively.

On each occasion McKibbin has taken to the Paralympic stage, he’s come away with a medal draped around his neck.

He said: “I think Paris will be really nice for family, and people that are close to us and who make a lot of sacrifices, to be able to make a short train or boat ride across the water to support us.

“Especially after Tokyo, where I had friends and family who wanted to come over and who had tickets, but with the lockdown and everything, couldn’t quite make it.”

Born with bilateral talipese, known as club foot, McKibbin had corrective surgery at just a week old, but has never let his condition hold him back.

McKibbin has high hopes for the summer in France. (Credit: Aaron McKibbin)

“I think my disability started to become a factor when I was young, but I didn’t really classify myself as disabled,” said McKibbin.

“Really, I saw myself just as every old person. I was having surgery almost once a year where they’d sort of break the bone and manipulate it and move it around, so it now faces forward.

“It still affects my balance, and from having such surgery, I don’t have a lot of calf muscle, which affects my power and speed.”

Looking forward to the event, McKibbin fancies his chances of standing atop a podium, and has set his sights on more then one discipline.

He added: “The systems have now changed: it’s now doubles, not team events. I won my previous medals in team events, but I’ll now be playing doubles.

“I think everyone is there to win gold, but I know the way I’ve been playing the last few years and I have confidence. I know I’ll be in the mix of both doubles and singles, and to go the whole way potentially.

“The big aim for this one is to compete for a singles medal. I think in the last few years, my levels have improved a lot.

“In doubles too, my partner Martin Perry and I have a really good chance to go past a bronze and hopefully compete for a silver or gold. So that’s my aim, and I’d like to think it’s very realistic.”

Main image credit: DiscoA340 via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

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