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Meet the world's Paralympic athletes

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Melissa Stockwell
USA, Triathlon

Stockwell was the first Iraq War veteran chosen for the Paralympics.

She lost her left leg when a roadside bomb exploded when she was leading a convoy in Baghdad in 2004.

She was the U.S. Team's flag bearer at the 2008 Summer Paralympics.

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Alex Zinardi
Italy, Cycling


Zanardi was professional Formula One and prominent motorsports driver.

His legs were amputated after a devastating racing crash in 2001.

As a result, he switched sports and first represented Italy in cycling and winning gold at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.

Zahra Nemati
Iran, Archery


Nemati was a black belt in taekwondo before being injured in a car accident that paralyzed her legs in 2003.

She took up archery and within six months, she had finished third in the National Championships against able bodied athletes.

She made history by qualifying for both the 2016 Paralympics and the 2016 Olympics in Rio for archery.

Ibrahim Al-Hussein
Refugee, Swimming


In 2013, Al-Hussein lost part of his right leg trying to help a friend who was hit by a bomb and being injured himself.

He went to Turkey to look for recovery options and flee war in Syria.

He was confined to home before taking a year to learn to walk again.

In 2016, para-athletes who have been displaced from their home country will be able to compete in the Paralympics for the first time.

Matt Stutzman
USA, Archery


Stutzman was born without arms and had to learn to do everything one might normally do with one's arms with his feet.

He is currently also the world record holder for longest accurate shot in archery, earning him the title of the 'Armless Archer'.

He uses feet and shoulder to point and shoot his bow and arrow.

Click through the gallery to see photos form the Paralympics Opening Ceremony:

44 PHOTOS
2016 Paralympic Opening Ceremony
See Gallery
2016 Paralympic Opening Ceremony
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. A performer takes part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. A performer interacts with a robotic arm during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. A performer interacts with a robotic arm during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Fireworks erupt during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Brazilian Paralympic runner Marcia Malsar continues carrying the torch after falling as rain falls during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Confetti falls during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. An athlete from Palestine takes part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. The cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva carries the torch during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Pool 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. The Brazilian (L) and Paralympic flags are raised during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Fireworks go off the opening ceremony. TSRIO2016 REUTERS/Jason O'Brien 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Fireworks erupt during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part in the opening ceremony. TSRIO2016 REUTERS/Jason O'Brien
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part in the opening ceremony. TSRIO2016 REUTERS/Jason O'Brien 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. National flags are seen during the opening ceremony. TSRIO2016 REUTERS/Jason O'Brien 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. A performer in a wheelchair takes part in the opening ceremony. TSRIO2016 REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes march into the arena during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana Stadium. REUTERS/Bob Martin/Pool 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva lights the flame during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva lights the flame during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva carries the torch during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, speaks during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Performers take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Jason O'Brien 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Poland take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Brazil take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes T
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Vietnam take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from North Korea take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes F
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Brazil take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Brazil take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from France take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Spain take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Iraq take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Taiwan take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Britain take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from Australia take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino 
2016 Rio Paralympics - Opening ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 07/09/2016. Athletes from China take part in the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes 
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