It was a remarkable Paralympic Games for Derbyshire in Tokyo as we have three gold medals to talk about!
We'll start with the man who won two of those: Glossop's Ben Watson. Watson enjoyed a stunning Paralympics; winning gold in the men's C3 road cycling time trial and a gold in the men's C1-3 cycling road race. Not only that, he won both events comfortably and was part of an incredible Paralympics GB cycling squad in where every single member won at least a bronze medal.
Derbyshire's first gold medal of the Games though arrived on the first Sunday of the Games on the wheelchair rugby court. Matlock's Ryan Cowling scored three tries in an enthralling final against The United States where Britain edged out their North American opponents 54-49 following an outstanding final quarter. This was a truly historic moment for the team; not only was this the first time Great Britain had ever won gold in wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games, but it was also the first ever time a European nation had won gold in the wheelchair rugby event. It was also the first time ever Paralympics GB had won a gold medal in a team sport.
Ryan Cowling had an excellent tournament and featured in every single game for GB over the course of the tournament. Cowling has won his first Paralympics medal at the age of 45 and has played a hugely significant role in raising the profile of this sport.
Sadly, GB's women's wheelchair basketball team had a really disappointing tournament and, despite being strong medal contenders before the start of the Games, Hope Valley's Maddie Thompson has returned home to Derbyshire empty handed. Britain ended up finishing seventh in the tournament after beating Spain in the seventh/eighth place play-off. The team ended up in that playoff match after scraping through the group stage to reach the quarter-finals before being eliminated by China. Despite only winning a total of two matches throughout this tournament, this should spur Maddie Thompson on hugely for the Paris Games which is now only three years away.
Unfortunately, it was a heartbreaking Games for Chesterfield's para-badminton player Jack Shephard. Shephard won one match and lost one match in his group stage to miss out on a semi-final spot by the narrowest of margins. Shephard did make history though by competing in the first ever Paralympic Games to feature para-badminton.
It was also a heartbreaker of a Games for Derby's Dave Ellis in the para-triathlon PTVI race. Ellis was going along really nicely until disaster struck in the cycling phase of the event when the chain broke completely on his bicycle. The issue left him with no choice but to retire from the race and reflect on what could have been.
Finally, we have para-archery's Hazel Chaisty who lives in Glossop. Chaisty managed to reach the quarter-finals of the women's individual recurve event before being eliminated 6-2 by Italy's Vincenza Petrilli. Chaisty won two knock-out contests to get to the quarter-final stage. Hazel should be happy with her performance in the event as she revealed to Derbyshire Media Company just before the Games started that she was hoping to reach the quarter-finals of her individual event.
There was real belief though that Chaisty could win a medal in her second and final event: the mixed team recurve alongside David Phillips. Unfortunately, Hazel was to exit the competition at the quarter-final stage of this event too.
After eliminating Turkey comfortably 5-1 in the Round of 16, they were beaten heavily 6-0 by Iran in the quarter-finals.
Overall, three gold medals is a fantastic return from Derbyshire at the Tokyo Paralympics. History was made by athletes such as Matlock's Ryan Cowling and Chesterfield's Jack Shephard and there is plenty to spur other athletes on like Maddie Thompson when the next Paralympic Games arrives in only three years time in Paris. We congratulate all our Derbyshire Paralympians on their performances!
Don't forget - you can also now read our full feature article and exclusive interview with Matlock's Ryan Cowling on the Derbyshire Media Company website and via our social media platforms. In the piece, Ryan gives us an absolutely fantastic and detailed insight into his extraordinary Games and how it feels to win a gold medal after years of training and hard work.