Tokyo Paralympics: Sprinter accepts marriage proposal in moving moment after race

Visually impaired sprinter Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo got engaged to her guide Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga shortly after competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Visually impaired sprinter Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo got engaged to her guide Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga shortly after competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The pair ran in the T11 200m qualifying heats, placing fourth and failing to book a place in the semi-finals.

Pereira Semedo’s disappointment soon turned to joy, however. Shortly after she crossed the finish line, Vaz de Veiga got down on one knee and proposed to her. To the delight of their fellow athletes, Pereira Semedo accepted the proposal.

"I really have no words. There are so many emotions all together. Just the fact of being here at the Paralympic Games, I hardly felt my legs actually because I was so nervous," Pereira Semedo said.

"Now, with the proposal, there are just too many emotions going on right now. I don't have words to explain how I feel at this moment. I always had the dream of getting married but we hadn't planned anything so far. We haven't spoken about it and I wasn't expecting it at all.

"I'm not sure if any of my relatives already knew because I did not know. But I am sure our parents will go crazy. They will like it. I am sure my mom will be very happy because she always wanted me to get married."

Pereira Semedo and Vaz de Veiga, who compete for Cape Verde, have been together for 11 years. Vaz de Veiga revealed he came up with the idea to propose when he found out Pereira Semedo was heading to Tokyo 2020.

"My two brothers and a friend of mine already knew of this. I am sure they will be very happy. My family will be thrilled. They will all love the idea."

Pereira Semedo took up Para-athletics aged 15 and represented Cape Verde for the first time in 2005. She relocated from Cape Verde to Portugal in 2010. After some time away from sport, she resumed training in 2012.

The 32-year-old was competing at her first Paralympic Games, finishing fourth in the heats of the T11 100m and 200m. She revealed she is aiming to compete at Paris 2024 with her husband as her guide.

"These were my first Paralympic Games and with my age and speed I was actually thinking about stopping afterwards," she said. "But now I have an additional motivation to carry on after the Games, always with him by my side."

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