2015 Male Para-Swimmer of the Year: Ihar Boki, Belarus
In a year where the sport’s female stars are leading the way toward the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, Belarusian swimmer Ihar Boki stood out among the men as the 21-year old’s star continued to rise in 2015.
At the World Championships, Boki won 6 gold medals and 1 silver across a massive schedule that was bigger than any he’d attempted before. The gold tally was one more than the 5 he won at both the 2012 Paralympics and at the 2013 World Championships.
The new gold medal for him came in the 50 free: an event in which Boki had earned only Paralympic silver previously. That medal went with wins in the 100 IM, 200 IM, 100 free, 400 free, and 100 fly at the World Championships.
Included in-and-among the gold medals were 4 new World Records (he holds 7 altogether, all of them in long course) in the S13 category: 50 free (23.20), 100 free (50.85), 100 back (56.74), and 100 fly (54.44).
Boki was Belarus’ fastest 200 and 400 meter freestyler in 2015, regardless of impairment or not, and if the country were to qualify a 400 free or medley relay for the 2016 Olympics, Boki would have a chance at qualifying as part of that relay team. The country’s relays finished 18th and 15th, respectively, at last year’s World Championships; 16 countries qualify to compete in each relay at the Olympic Games.
- Brazilian Daniel Dias once again dominated the S5 and SB4 classes, winning 7 gold medals and a silver at the World Championships and 8 gold medals at the Parapan American Games in Toronto. His Worlds run included championship records in the 50 back and 100 free, as well as swimming the second leg on a World Record breaking mixed 200 free relay for Brazil. All 7 of his World titles came in events that will be raced at the Paralympic Games next year.
- Dias’ teammate Andre Brasil won 3 golds and two silvers in the S10 classification at the 2015 World Championships, and added to it 6 Parapan American Games victories.
- Alexander Skaliukh from Russia went 4-for-5 in his events at the World Championships, winning gold medals in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly in the S9 category, as well as a relay gold on Russia’s 34-point 400 free relay.