Illini athletes bring home medal haul from Tokyo
- Paralympians Made Here
- Steve Serio
- Tatyana McFadden
- Susannah Scaroni
- Alexa Halko
- Brian Bell
- Ryan Neiswender
- Daniel Romanchuk
Team USA won 104 medals, including 37 golds, at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Athletes who train at the University of Illinois won 11 individual medals, while team sports, such as men and women’s wheelchair basketball, also took home medals.
Team USA stalwart and Illini alum Tatyana McFadden won three medals, including a gold in the 4x100 relay. It was her eighth gold medal and 20th medal overall in her fifth Paralympic Games.
"It's been really amazing and I wouldn't want to do it with any other team,” McFadden told Paralympic.org after the relay win. “It's a really special team. We've got such a bond. It is something that I will always remember. I will keep it in my heart.”
McFadden’s Illinois track and field teammate Raymond Martin won three medals in Tokyo, including gold in the 100-meter T52. Illinois' robust adaptive athletics program was on display in Tokyo, as McFadden and Martin were among the university's 20-athlete contingent on the 2020 U.S. Paralympic team—the most of any school.
In addition to McFadden and Martin, Illini athletes Susannah Scaroni (gold in 5,000-meter T54, bronze in 800-meter T54), Daniel Romanchuk (gold, 400-meter, bronze, men's marathon T54), and Alexa Halko (bronze, 800-meter T34) also took home hardware.
In team sports, the men’s wheelchair basketball team defended its 2016 Paralympic gold medal, led by Illini Steve Serio, Brian Bell and Ryan Neiswender. Serio had 28 points in the gold medal game against host Japan.
“Japan was the Cinderella story of this tournament, but you couldn’t ask for a more storybook ending for us,” Serio said.
“We didn’t get the start we wanted, but we definitely got the finish we wanted.”
After the game, Serio said this—his fourth Paralympic Games—might be it.
“This is more than likely going to be my last Paralympic Games. I can’t think of a better exclamation point on an incredible journey," he said. "I definitely want to continue in the Paralympic movement but the impact I can have off the court is more important than the impact I can have on it.”
The women's wheelchair basketball team—which includes Illini Ali Ibanez and Kaitlyn Eaton—earned bronze after edging Germany.
Team USA athletes will only have to wait three years for the next Paralympic Games, which will be held in 2024 in Paris.