Kylie Grimes becomes first woman to win gold in mixed gender wheelchair rugby at Tokyo Paralympics

Great Britain's wheelchair rugby team made history at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics with its first-ever medal in the sport. And it did so in the best way with a gold-medal victory against the United States, which has medaled in every competition included in the Games.

The victory also marked a monumental moment in women's sport history. Though wheelchair rugby is a mixed gender sport, no woman until now had been on a gold-medal winning team. Great Britain's Kylie Grimes became the first in the 54-49 win on Sunday.

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The wheelchair rugby competition was included in the 1996 Atlanta Games as a demonstration sport. the U.S. defeated Canada, 37-30, that year and Great Britain finished fourth.

It became a medal sport in 2000 with the US taking the first gold medal. Counting the gold medal winners in 2021, a total of 57 athletes have won Paralympic gold in wheelchair rugby, via Alex Azzi of On Her Turf. Grimes is the only woman in that bunch. She's also only the second woman to medal in the sport, joining Canada's Erika Schmutz who won bronze in 2008.

“Wheelchair rugby is for everybody, for all of us: young girls, young boys, youth, everybody. I’d love more women in my sport. Women can match the men," Grimes said, via PA Media.

“It’s about tactics, skills, using the brain. The men have their testosterone flying around everywhere, the big hits – but it is not always about that.

“If I can get more women involved as well then the more merrier, I would be delighted.”

In Tokyo, only four of eight teams competing have a woman on the roster. It was still a record for women competing in wheelchair rugby at a Paralympics. They are Kurahashi Kae of Japan, Sofie Sejer Skoubo of Denmark, Shae Graham of Australia and Grimes, 33, of Great Britain.

Grimes debuted in wheelchair rugby at London 2012, where Great Britain finished fifth. She competed in track and field in Rio before returning to the rugby side.

Kae won bronze in the match against Graham's Australia.

The U.S. won gold again in 2008 with bronze in 2004 and 2012. They won silver in Rio.

Great Britain placed fourth again in 2004 in the bronze medal match against the U.S. and 2008 versus Canada.

Kylie Grimes is the first woman to win gold at the mixed gender wheelchair rugby competition. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Kylie Grimes is the first woman to win gold at the mixed gender wheelchair rugby competition. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)