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Best of British on show at spectacular Rio Paralympics

12:00am | & News

Singers, dancers and fireworks lit up the Maracana Stadium for Sunday's closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, lowering the curtain on an outstanding games for Team GB.

The British squad ended the games with 64 gold medals, the most won by a British team since 1988. They had aimed to beat their overall medal tally of 120 from the London Paralympics four years ago, where they enjoyed home advantage. In fact they passed that total on day nine of the Rio games and went on to collect 147 in total, putting them second in the medal table, beaten only by China.

Team GB also won gold in 11 different sports, matching the number from Beijing eight years ago and demonstrating the real strength in depth of British paralympic sport. Chosen to carry the British flag at the closing ceremony was Kadeena Cox (pictured), who won gold in not one but two sports in Rio – athletics and cycling. The remarkable 25-year-old set a new world record in the velodrome to win the 500 metres time trial before switching to the running track to claim gold in the 400 metres. She also won a bronze in the 100 metres and silver as part of the relay squad.

Other notable British successes included Dame Sarah Storey winning three cycling golds to become the UK's most successful female Paralympian, with a total of 14. Like Kadeena Cox, she has scored success in two sports, winning her early medals as a swimmer before switching to the cycling track. On her current form she could even add to her tally in four years' time.

In the pool at Rio Ellie Simmonds successfully defended her 200 metres individual medley gold from London and won bronze in the 400 metre freestyle, while Bethany Firth won a hat trick of golds in the 200m individual medley, the200m freestyle and the 100m backstroke. Still in the pool, Sascha Kindred marked his sixth and final Paralympics with his seventh gold medal, setting a new world record in the 200m medley at the age of 38.

On the track, Hannah Cockroft proved unbeatable in wheelchair racing, winning gold in all three of her events, the 800 metres, 400m and 100m sprint. And the new sports at Rio – canoeing and triathlon – also brought successes for Team GB. On the water Britain's women won gold in all three of the canoeing categories while the men took bronze in two of theirs. Triathlon brought four British medals in total, with Andy Lewis becoming Britain's first Paralympic Triathlon champion.

These were just a few of the British successes among so many, but there were a few disappointments too, none more so than for wheelchair racer David Weir, who missed the birth of his fourth child to take part in the games. Unbeatable for so long, Weir took four golds at the London games but couldn't recapture that glory in Rio, failing to win a medal in any of his four events and clearly devastated. But with six gold medals and six London Marathon wins to his credit, Weir can hold his head high.

As the Rio Games came to a close, it was a celebration not just for Team GB but for the Paralympics as a whole. A month before the games started there was even doubt that they could go ahead, with serious shortfalls in funding and disappointing ticket sales. But Rio and the Paralympic community rallied and brought off a spectacular and thrill-packed fortnight of games showcasing some of the world's most remarkable athletes. It will be a tough act to follow in four years' time when the games move to Tokyo.

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