Incredible Athletes: The inspiring stories of Paralympic hopefuls

Matt Scott, McKenna Dahl, Jessica Long, Ryan Boyle, Melissa Stockwell
From left to right: Matt Scott, McKenna Dahl, Jessica Long, Ryan Boyle, Melissa Stockwell

BBC Sport's Incredible Athletes series explores the inspiring stories of Paralympic hopefuls targeting medals at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

We speak to wheelchair basketball player Matt Scott, swimmer Jessica Long, para-triathlete Melissa Stockwell, para-cyclist Ryan Boyle and shooter McKenna Dahl to discover what they aim to achieve within their sport and the lasting legacy they hope to create outside of their chosen discipline.

Matt Scott - wheelchair basketball

Four-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player Matt Scott shares his remarkable recovery from a life-threatening illness.

The 34-year-old, who plays professionally in Germany, says he came close to death but returned to the court after four months in hospital to make an emotional basket with his very first shot.

Incredible Athletes: Matt Scott

Jessica Long - swimming

Thirteen-time Paralympic swimming champion Jessica Long speaks to BBC Sport and describes how winning her first medal, aged 12, was "insane".

Long, who is now 27, was adopted from Russia as a baby, and had both legs amputated below the knee having been born with fibular hemimelia.

The second-most decorated Paralympian in US history, recalls her past and says she will "take herself back to that little Russian girl who believed she could do anything" as she prepares for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Incredible Athletes: Jess Long

Melissa Stockwell - para-triathlon

Para-triathlete Melissa Stockwell says her legacy as an athlete will be to inspire young girls with disabilities to take up sport and compete at the highest level.

The three-time Paratriathlon world champion, who was a second lieutenant in United States Army Transportation Corps, became first American female soldier to lose a limb in active combat, in roadside bomb in Iraq.

She says: "Maybe there's a 10-year-old girl who just lost her leg and doesn't know what she can do with her life and she turns on the TV or looks on her phone and says 'look at this girl, she's just like me, ff she can do that, I can do it as well'."

Incredible Athletes: Melissa Stockwell

Ryan Boyle - para-cycling

Para-cyclist Ryan Boyle opens up to BBC Sport about his remarkable journey from a devastating road accident to world champion.

In 2003, age 9, he was hit by a truck and went into a coma losing a part of his brain after surgery. He had to learn to talk, eat and walk all over again, and wrote a book called 'When the Lights Go Out'.

Boyle describes his recovery and how he trained to become an Olympic silver medallist in the Para-cycling road time trial at Rio 2016.

The 25-year-old is now aiming to go one better at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Incredible Athletes: Ryan Boyle

McKenna Dahl - shooting

McKenna Dahl's parents were told at her birth that she would never walk or talk or read or be able to keep up with her peers.

By the time she turned six, Dahl had fallen in love with shooting and began her journey in pursuing her passion.

Now aged 23, the American is an Olympic bronze medallist in R5 10m Air Rifle prone - the first US woman to win a Paralympic shooting medal.

Her next target is to stand at the top of the podium at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Incredible Athletes: McKenna Dahl

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