Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham just opened the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in badass style — with a death-defying, fireworks-accompanied stunt.
The 24-year-old from Las Vegas, adapts his moves from a hybrid of skateboarding and BMX racing, kicked off the 2016 Games with a surprise demonstration of his WCMX wheelchair skills. He pulled the stunt after the president of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Phillip Craven, gave the official countdown to kick of the Games.
Appearing in a bright green chair at the top of a six-story high construction, Fotheringham went flying down the giant ramp, with fireworks going off on either side of him, only to launch into a somersault through a large ring. It. Was. Epic.
The stadium filled with cheers as the three-hour procession of paralympians, dancing and up-tempo music kicked off.
“A lot of people view the wheelchair as being negative, or kind of like a prison, like you always hear people say, ‘confined to a wheelchair,'” Fotheringham, who has Spina Bifida, said. “And for me, I never felt confined to the wheelchair – it always was a great opportunity so if I could say anything to anyone living on a wheelchair, it’s all about having a positive attitude and just kind of looking for the bright side of things.”
He added, “wheelchairs provide just as many opportunities as someone with working legs, it’s just you got to get out there and kind of chase it.”
No doubt many more young people will be inspired at take up the art of “hardcore sitting,” as Fotheringham jokingly calls it, after seeing this act of showmanship.
Now that the 11-day games have officially begun, they’ll be plenty more where that came from.