Aug 23, 2021 - Things to Do
Meet the Minnesotans heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympic Games
Photo illustration of six Paralympians from Minnesota
Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Team USA

Minnesota is well represented at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which get underway Tuesday.

What's happening: 11 local athletes are participating in events ranging from swimming to wheelchair basketball over the next week-plus of competition.

Why it matters: Home state pride! It's fun to cheer on our fellow Minnesotans as they compete on the world's biggest stage in their respective sports.

Who to watch: Chuck Aoki, a Southwest High grad, is a star of the top-ranked men's wheelchair rugby team. The Minneapolis native helped lead Team USA to bronze and silver medals in the last two games.

  • Swimmer Mallory Weggemann, a two-time Paralympic medalist from Eagan, is making her third appearance in the pool. So is Edina's Natalie Simms, who placed eighth in the 400m freestyle in 2016.
  • Minnesota has three athletes on the women's wheelchair basketball team: Abby Bauleke, Josie Aslakson and Rose Hollermann.
  • And Ben Goodrich, a St. Paul native, is aiming to medal in the men's judo competition. He scored the bronze in the 2020 IBSA Judo World Cup.
  • Rounding out Minnesota's delegation are Aaron Pike (track and field); Alexis Shifflett (sitting volleyball); Ian Seidenfeld (table tennis) and Summer Schmit (swimming).

Worth noting: Like participants in last month's Olympic Games, Paralympians faced a one-year postponement and barriers to training after the pandemic prompted gym closures and travel restrictions. Local athletes are determined not to let that impact their bids.

  • "One big thing that Paralympians especially realized throughout their life is that obstacles are there for us to overcome," Goodrich told Torey. "The opportunity to overcome presented itself and I think I've done a fair job and I'll be able to showcase that."

How to watch: Select events will air during prime time on NBC (channel 11), with more coverage on NBCSN, NBCOlympics.com and the Peacock streaming service.

  • More info, including a broadcast schedule, is available here.
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