Superhuman… and then some! Five athletes who symbolise triumph of will over adversityEach has found their own incredible way to compete at the highest level despite their disability
They are the images which sum up the spirit of the athletes who have been dubbed The Superhumans.
Each has found their own remarkable way to overcome their disability and perform to the highest level in their chosen sporting discipline.
While one double amputee launches herself into a swimming race by clenching a towel tightly in her teeth, an archer uses his feet to position his bow.
In table tennis, a competitor balances a ball on her disabled upper arm before serving and in cycling a rider uses a specially balanced bike to power himself around the velodrome on one leg.
Spectators have been astounded at the performances. Here we take a look at five of the athletes who have drawn gasps of admirations and applause from the crowds.
Remarkable: American Archer Matt Stutzman competes in the London Paralympics by holding the bow between his toes and using a harness on his shoulder to pull back the arrow
Despite being born with no arms, American archer Matt Stutzman is determined to win gold.
The 29-year-old from Iowa remarkably uses his feet to fire the bow.
To fire an arrow, Stutzman lifts his leg horizontally, holding the bow between his toes.
The end of the arrow is hooked to a harness on his shoulder, which he carefully pulls back to generate the power needed for a shot.
He then holds the end of the arrow in his mouth in order to direct it before releasing.
The athlete developed an interest in archery after learning how to shoot using his feet. His mother said that he was able to shoot a hole in a penny up to 50 yards away.
QUEEN OF THE POOL
True grit: China”s Lu Dong, who has no arms, grips a towel between her teeth so she can launch herself into the pool at the Aquatics Centre
Going swimmingly: The 20-year-old powered to gold in the 100m backstroke in a world-record breaking time
Twenty-year-old Chinese swimmer Lu Dong – who has no arms – is unable to hold the edge of the pool to launch herself into a race.
So she clenched a towel tightly in her teeth, before leaping backwards at the start of the 100m backstroke at the Paralympic pool yesterday.
Powered only by her legs, she swam to gold in a world record-breaking time of 1.24.71– drawing roars from the 16,000 spectators who packed into the Aquatics Centre in Stratford.
She beat Britain’s Nyree Kindred, who has the use of her arms, into second place.
Lu Dong is also to compete in the 50m butterfly later in the Games.
Wat-er champ: Chinese swimmer Tao Zheng stormed to gold in the 100m backstroke in record-record pace despite having no arms
Chinese swimmer Tao Zheng broke the world record in the men’s s6 100metres backstroke yesterday.
The 21-year-old swims using only the power of his legs.
He won the race taking gold in a record time of 1:13.56. He is competing in three other events, including the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 200m individual medley.
PING PONG PRODIGY
“Disability is nothing”: One-armed table tennis player Natalia Partyka has won golds and silvers in both the Olympics and Paralympics
Early success: The 23-year-old took gold in the singles event and a silver in the team event at the Athens Olympics Games in 2004 when she was just 15
Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka was born without a right hand and forearm.
She is one of only six athletes ever to have competed at both the Olympics and Paralympics and made her Paralympic debut in Sydney aged just 11.
At 15, she took a gold in the singles event and a silver in the team event at the Athens Games in 2004.
She repeated her gold and silver feat in the same way at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.
Miss Partyka, 23, recently reached the last 32 of the London Olympics singles table tennis tournament.
Her prowess at both levels of competition is all the more incredible given that her shot range is restricted by the use of only one hand.
To serve she has to balance the ball on her disabled arm which she then throws up. Dismissing her disability as restrictive, she said previously: ‘For me, [disability] is nothing.
‘I am playing the same lines as the others. I am doing the same exercises. We have the same goals and the same dreams.’
BRAVERY ON A BIKE
Determined: Spain”s Juan Jose Mendez competes in the Men”s Individual C1-2-3 1km Cycling Time Trial final at the Velodrome with just the use of his right arm and right leg
Spanish cyclist Juan Jose Mendez competed in the individual C1-2-3 1km cycling time trial yesterday.
With only the use of his right arm and right leg, the 58-year-old gritted his teeth as he approached the finish line at the Velodrome.
The bike used by Mendez has a specially adapted seat in which he places his left leg in order to balance.
He performed valiantly in the event, finishing 24th.The cyclist also competed at the Beijing Games in 2008. Nicknamed Juanjo, he is also a keen swimmer and model-maker.