She missed the semifinals of her 200-meter race, but the day was a memorable one anyway for Paralympic sprinter Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo of Cape Verde as she got engaged just minutes after she stopped running.
After the women’s 200-meter heat, the guides assembled all the other runners and guides around hem in a semicircle as Semedo’s longtime partner and running guide Manuel Antonio Vaz da Vega got down on one knee and popped the question.
After the visually impaired runner finished fourth in the race Vaz da Vega quickly ran off-camera and returned to the track with a small ring box in his hand.
He then took Semedo’s hand, got down on one knee and placed the ring on her finger as the Paralympics spectators — which were sadly limited due to the pandemic — went wild.
Tulsen Tollett, the BBC broadcaster who was commentating on the race, tweeted about the engagement and congratulated the pair, saying “She may have missed out on the semi-finals, but she has a fiancé to go. Congrats.”
Although Semedo now lives in Portugal, she runs for her home country, the island nation of Cape Verde, located 350 miles west of the African continent. She has been competing since 2005, listing her guide as her greatest influence.
The 200-meter specialist first competed in the Paralympics in 2012, in London.
Semedo was visibly moved as she stood on the track, and tears came as Vaz da Veiga slipped the ring onto her finger before they hugged.
Love has been in the air in Tokyo this summer, as Argentine fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice also got engaged at the Olympics in July. Her coach and boyfriend of 17 years, Lucas Saucedo, proposed to her after a loss to Hungary’s Anna Marton, which she excitedly accepted.
Greece wins big at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
The Paralympics in Tokyo have been good to Greek athletes this year, withGreek sprinter Thanasis Ghavelas winning the gold medal for Greece in the 100 meter sprint final on Thursday at the Paralympic Games.
The Greek athlete, who was fourth at both the London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, took third place with 15.93 meters in the impressive final of the F20 class ball.
Mens swimming at the Paralympics was also the stage for more Greek medals as Antonios Tsapatakis took the gold in the 100m breaststroke SB4. Tspatakis completed the race in 1 minute and 40.20 seconds, finishing after Russian swimmer Dmitrii Cherniaev (1.38.96, a new world record) and Colombian swimmer Moises Fuentes Garcia (1.35.86).
The 33-year-old Tsapatakis played water polo before he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2006. Tsapatakis had previously won one silver and three bronze medals at the World Championships.
Tsapatakis live in Thessaloniki, Greece, and was named the 2010 Male Athlete of the Year by Life&Style magazine. In 2005, before his accident that left him paraplegic, Tsapatakis was studying at the Hellenic Police Academy in order to become a member of the Hellenic police. His accident cut his dream short as all police officers in Greece were required by law to be able-bodied.
Tsapatakis has successfully worked to have these laws amended so that people with disabilities can become police officers in Greece. He has worked as a police officer in the sports service of the Hellenic Police since 2017.