Peter Genyn’s dramatic victory in the men’s 100-meter T51 final on Friday left the Belgian in tears.
Little did viewers know how much work went into Genyn even being able to line up with his competitors at the Olympic Stadium.
The 44-year-old says he showed up for pre-race warmups to find his chair severely damaged, an act he has described as intentional.
“We had just arrived 45 minutes before the warm-up and we had three flat tires and a broken compensator,” Genyn told Olympic Information Services after the race. “The day before we had a flat front tire, and it looked like a knife but we didn’t want to believe it.
“We changed the spare wheels. Thankfully I’m a maniac about my equipment and I had lots of spares.”
With new tires and a frame held together with duct tape, Genyn set a new Paralympic record of 20.33 seconds — 0.52 short of the world record he also owns — and pipped Finland’s Toni Piispanen for gold.
Speaking to Belgian broadcaster Sporza, Genyn did not hold back and said foul play had nearly kept him off the track.
“Pure sabotage,” Genyn told the network. “Someone must have been very scared.
“It was terrible, I really thought it was over. But I’m glad I was able to show that they can’t even win this way. You have to be a loser to do something like that.”
Genyn’s wheelchair was repaired by his coach as well as staffers dispatched by Ottobock, the German wheelchair and prosthetics firm that has serviced the equipment of athletes competing at the Paralympics since 1998.
“It was an awesome team — the coach, the service team from Ottobock… Everybody did everything to get the chair ready,” Genyn said.
“I guess I showed who can push the chair and who can’t.”
According to Sporza, Team Belgium has filed complaints with Tokyo 2020 organizers as well as the International Paralympic Committee.
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