SPORTS

Rio 2016 Paralympics

4300 athletes from 161 countries participate in the games

The 2016 Paralympics begin today with Rio's iconic Maracana stadium to host the opening ceremony.

Less than three weeks after the flame was doused on South America's first Olympic games, Rio De Janeiro welcomes 4,300 Paralympians seeking their own slice of sporting glory.

Stars include Iranian Powerlifter Siamand Rahman, Britain's wheelchair racer David weir and china's blind sprinter liu cuiqing.

Two new events -- canoe-kayak and triathlon -- make their appearance on the 22-sport menu.

Competitors from 161 nations are participating in the Paralympics -- but no Russian is amongst them.

Russian Para-athletes, were last month barred from the games by the international Paralympic committee following a world anti-doping agency report which alleged a vast state-sponsored doping program.

Six countries are sending athletes for the very first time -- Aruba, Congo, Malawi, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.

Syrian swimmer Ibrahim Al-Hussein, who lost a leg in an explosion in his nation's civil war, and Iranian discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour make up a two-strong refugee team.

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