Rio Paralympics 2016: Tanni Grey-Thompson's must-see moments

Tanni Grey-Thompson at Sydney 2000
Tanni Grey-Thompson competed in four Paralympic Games from Barcelona 1992 to Athens in 2004
Paralympic Games on the BBC
Venue: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dates: 7-18 September Time in Rio: BST -4
Coverage: Live updates, video clips, medal table, results and news alerts, catch-up service, plus commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. Television coverage on Channel 4.

There will be 528 gold medals up for grabs across 23 sports over the course of the 11 days of competition at the 2016 Paralympic Games.

New heroes will emerge and memorable performances will take place in Rio.

Baroness Grey-Thompson is one of Britain's greatest Paralympians - she won 11 gold medals and will be part of the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary team in Brazil.

Here is her guide to the moments that you simply cannot afford to miss...

The opening ceremony


  • 22:15 BST on Wednesday, 7 September

We don't know too much about the ceremony yet, although we have been promised some surprises.

The athletes will have been waiting to come out to Brazil, then been at the holding camp for a few days and finally got into the village - but once the opening ceremony starts, that's it. You can't stop it!

A lot of the athletes won't be able to march out because of their competition.

However, you don't train for four years to march out in an opening ceremony and there is a different feel in the village once it starts. Everyone just settles down from then on and gets down to the business in hand.

Dame Sarah Storey breaking golds record


  • C5 3,000m individual pursuit qualifying at 15:10 and final at 21:12 on Thursday, 8 September
  • C4-5 time trial at 21:51 on Saturday, 10 September
Dame Sarah Storey celebrates her success at the 2012 Games
Grey-Thompson expects Storey to surpass her record of 11 gold medals

I've known Sarah since she was 14 and I wish she had gone to cycling earlier than when she switched sports in 2005. How amazing is it that although we thought swimming was her sport, she is a better cyclist than swimmer?

Winning early medals definitely helps the morale of the team and for Sarah, a gold medal in her first event - the C5 3km individual pursuit on Thursday - would be special and would take her past our current tally of 11 golds.

But the medal total is one of those things that is only yours for a bit - like world records - and although you wouldn't want anyone else to have it, there is nothing you can do.

This will be her first Games as a mum and her seventh in total. Although it will be hard, she will just get on with it. She is already the equal most successful female Paralympian - but this would take her to the next level.

Para-triathlon making its debut


  • Men's events on Saturday, 10 September: PT4 at 14:00, PT2 (Andrew Lewis) at 14:03, PT1 at 15:20
  • Women's events on Sunday, 11 September: PT4 (Lauren Steadman) at 14:00, PT2 at 14:03, PT5 (Alison Patrick) at 15:20
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Two sports will be making their Games debut - triathlon and canoe. I'm looking forward to both but triathlon is an amazing sport and I am really pleased it is in the Paralympics.

My husband Ian is part of the GB coaching set-up and the athletes are just so hardcore having to cope with three disciplines and the transitions.

It is an amazing sport to watch and, for example, if you are a wheelchair user you are using your arms only and it is so brutal.

The GB team have got good chances for medals in both the men's and women's events. Lauren Steadman, Andy Lewis and Alison Patrick are current world champions but you also have the likes of Royal Marine Joe Townsend, who has improved so much.

Watching Ellie Simmonds hopefully battle her way to gold


  • S6 50m freestyle heats at 13:54 and final at 21:50 on Saturday, 10 September
  • SM6 200m individual medley heats at 15:30 and final at 23:39 on Monday, 12 September
  • S6 400m freestyle heats at 13:46 and final at 21:41 on Tuesday, 13 September
  • SB6 100m breaststroke heats at 13:55 and final at 21:50 on Thursday, 15 September
  • S6 100m freestyle heats at 13:40 and final at 21:36 on Saturday, 17 September
Ellie Simmonds on a stamp celebrating her exploits in 2012
Simmonds' exploits saw her appear on a stamp after 2012 - matching that will be difficult

Ellie is coming to her third Games at the age of 21. You forget how young she is, but it feels like she has been around forever.

This Games is a big challenge for the swimmer, who now has a big rival in Yelyzaveta Mereshko from the Ukraine, especially in the 400m freestyle where she is going for her third title in a row.

In Beijing eight years ago nobody knew Ellie and she won two gold medals, but there was different pressure on her at London 2012, where she won another two golds, and now a different pressure again in Rio.

For Ellie, it is about how much pressure she puts on herself. We expect her to just turn up and win - and that is hard.

Hoping the Weirwolf can shine again


  • T54 400m heats at 22:14 on Sunday, 11 September and final at 14:16 on Sunday, 12 September
  • T54 1,500m heats at 22:48 on Monday, 12 September and final at 22:22 on Tuesday, 13 September
  • T54 800m heats at 22:59 on Wednesday, 14 September and final at 16:02 on Thursday, 15 September
  • T53/54 4x400m relay heats at 16:21 on Friday, 16 September and final at 21:30 on Saturday, 17 September
  • T54 marathon at 16:30 on Sunday, 18 September

I love watching David Weir race, from the skinny kid I first saw in Atlanta in 1996 to the four-time London gold medallist.

It has been a really tough four years for him and even to win one medal of any colour will be a great achievement. Certainly, it will be very tough for him to do what he did in London.

Wheelchair racing is one of the deepest sports in terms of quality and so many guys can finish within half a second of each other.

In London, the others let Dave make every decision in his races and we saw what happened - but I don't think they will let him do that again.

David Weir winning the men's 800m T54 final in 2012
David Weir (right) won four gold medals in 2012

Feeling the tension at the track


  • T44 100m heats at 21:45 on Thursday, 8 September and final at 23:58 on Friday, 9 September

The start line for the T44 100m final on Friday will probably be the most tense we will see at any race over the entire programme.

The rivalry between defending champion Jonnie Peacock and the now-retired Richard Browne was quite feisty and brought out the best in Jonnie, but the rivalry between Jonnie and American Jarryd Wallace is different and definitely less fraught.

Jonnie has always delivered for Great Britain. It hasn't been an easy four years for him since 2012 with injury problems and new rivals emerging, but he will want to do it again. It will be one of the most interesting races and will be won and lost in the first 30 metres. The winner will be whoever gets out of the blocks clean and up to their top speed first.

It will also be interesting to see what shape Brazil's Alan Oliveira is in. He bulked up a lot after the 2013 World Championships in Lyon and I don't think that helped his sprinting. We all assumed after London that his star would just rise and rise, but it hasn't been quite that way.

I wish German long jumper Markus Rehm was in the 100m because I want to see how fast he can run. We know how far he can jump and he is nailed on for gold there, but it is a shame he isn't going for a double.

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Watching my protégé on track


  • T54 1500m heats at 22:19 on Monday, 12 September and final at 22:14 on Tuesday, 13 September
  • T54 5,000m heats 14:00 on Wednesday, 14 September and final at 21:30 on Thursday, 15 September
  • T54 800m heats at 14:00 and final at 21:48 on Saturday, 17 September

I've been working with wheelchair racer Jade Jones for a number of years and she goes in three events in the T54 category at her second Games.

I will feel so nervous watching her because there is nothing I can do. She is great and resilient and makes good decisions, but commentating on her races is just horrible.

You have to be aware of being objective and not watching her and calling the race as you see it - but there is a bit when I want to scream at her to go for it.

She is pushing well, is in good shape and is hitting her best ever top-end speed, lifting more in the gym.

She has to forget about American Tatyana McFadden, who is so dominant in that category, but if Jade was to win a medal, I might cry on air.

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones
Grey-Thomson is desperate for Jones to win a medal at the Games

Experiencing the Games as a whole

I know that this isn't technically a moment, but the Games as a whole will be memorable.

We know it has been a difficult build-up to the Games. However, what has been amazing is how huge the campaign to fill the seats and the public support in Britain has been.

It shows how much people care about the Paralympics. I was travelling across Europe when the news broke about disappointing ticket sales - and the fact that it made news in Germany and Belgium in a way it probably never has done before is a sign of change.

Ticket sales are now looking better and I think the sport will be great because standards are rising.

Does it actually matter that there isn't as much Paralympic branding in Rio as there was in London? It would have been nice but it is more important to be able to get the bus to your venue.

Baroness Grey-Thompson was speaking to BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson.

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