At the 2016 Paralympics Opening Ceremony in Rio on Wednesday night, one athlete showed all those watching what the games are all about.
Marcia Malsar, a 1984 gold medalist – who was the first Brazilian ever to win gold at the Paralympic Games – was carrying the torch at the Maracana Stadium when she slipped on its rain-soaked floor and fell.
Malsar, who had been walking with the aid of a cane, quickly pulled herself back up as officials rushed to her aid. Once up, she smiled and waved at the audience, finishing her portion of the iconic torch relay.
The tens of thousands of attendees exploded into cheers and applause – while the Internet quickly praised her for her “never give up” attitude.
She then passed the torch on to édria Santos – a former visually impaired runner. Clodoaldo Silva, a Brazilian national hero and six-time Paralympic champion, finishing the relay and lit the cauldron.
Malsar took the top prize during the 200-meter race in 1984’s New York/Stoke Mandeville Games. Her inspirational moment Wednesday was one of the highlights of the opening ceremony, which saw 4,300 Paralympic athletes partying their way into the night under a sea of fireworks, bright costumes, and celebrations.
Even Paralympian snowboarder and Dancing with the Stars runner-up Amy Purdy was there – dancing a five-minute samba with a robot while wearing high-tech running blades to make her movements seem more fluid.
Addressing crowd, head of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven said the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games would infuse the country with a “new perspective” that showed everyone that “the human spirit knows no limits.”
“Over the next 12 days, through the performances of Paralympians, you will see the true meaning of sport and the true definition of ability,” he added. “You will witness how Paralympic sport has the ability to inspire an individual, and the outstanding capacity to transform communities, countries and continents.”
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The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games run through Sept. 18. Televised events can be seen on NBC and NBC Sports Network, while all events can be streamed on TeamUSA.org.