Paralympic Sprinter Fails to Qualify for Semi-Final, Gets Engaged to Guide Runner Instead

A Paralympic sprinter from Cape Verde might not be leaving the Games with a medal, but she will be returning home with an engagement ring instead.

Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo was competing in the women's 200 meter T11 qualifying heat on Wednesday. As she finished in fourth place, Pereira Semedo did not advance to Saturday's semi-final.

After her race, she briefly left the track before returning with some of the other runners and their guides.

Her sighted guide, Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga, then took her hand and got down on one knee to ask her to marry him and she said yes.

Speaking about the heartwarming moment afterwards with Paralympic.org, the 32-year-old said: "With the proposal there's just too many emotions going on right now. I don't have words to explain how I feel.

"I am sure our parents will go crazy. They will like it. These were my first Paralympic Games and with my age and speed I was actually thinking about stopping afterwards. But now I have an additional motivation to carry on after the Games, always with him by my side."

#Paralympics proposal alert 🥺

Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga, guide to Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo, popped the question after the women's T11 200m heats

May the two of them run together for life! ❤️#Tokyo2020 #ParaAthletics pic.twitter.com/BYfWVwtwYm

— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) September 2, 2021

Vaz da Veiga admitted he'd been planning the surprise ever since her selection for Cape Verde's squad.

"I thought this was the best occasion and the best place to do it," he said.

"This [an athletics stadium] is her second home. She has been competing since 2005.

"We have been together in a relationship for 11 years, so I thought it was about time to come up with a proposal. So why not do it?"

A tweet featuring a GIF of the moment on the official Paralympic Games Twitter account said: "May the two of them run together for life."

What Is the T11 Classification?

The T11 classification at the Paralympic Games is for athletes with visual impairments.

Athletes competing under this classification may be entirely without sight or are able to perceive light but have no ability to see the shape of a hand at any distance.

Often, sprinters in this classification will compete running alongside sighted guide runners.

What Is a Guide Runner?

A guide runner is a sighted person who will run alongside a visually impaired athlete on the track.

The two runners will be tethered together with a piece of rope around their wrists.

Guide runners have to stay in sync with their athletes and need to be fit enough to run at speed while also being able to talk to their athletes.

They don't need to be the same gender as their athlete but must not cross the finish line ahead of their athlete.

Women's 200m T11 semi-final Tokyo Paralympics 2020
Athletes and their guide runners compete in the women's 200m T11 semi-final at the Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images