As the Paralympic Games in Tokyo come to an end, one athlete and her guide showed us that things are just getting started.
Following the women’s 200m T11 Heat 4 event, Manuel Antonio Vaz da Veiga, the guide for visually-impaired sprinter Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo of Cape Verde, got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend and running partner.
Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo from Cape Verde got a surprise marriage proposal from guide after her Tokyo Paralympics 2020 Women's 200m T11 Heat 4 event.#YouDeserveIt
— SABC Sport (@SPORTATSABC) September 2, 2021
"With the proposal there's just too many emotions going on right now,” Semedo said, Paralympics.org reported. “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,” she added.
???? RUNNING MATE: A surprise marriage proposal on the track lit up Tokyo’s Paralympics as a guide popped the question to a visually impaired athlete after her race. https://t.co/WJFgLuwtO9
— ABC News (@ABC) September 2, 2021
The couple has been dating for the past 11 years and Vaz da Veiga said the Paralympic Games could not have been a more fitting location to pop the question.
“I thought this was the best occasion and the best place to do it,” he said. “This [athletic stadium] is her second home. 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?"
Ultimately, Semedo, who has been competing since 2005, and Vaz da Veiga did not advance to the semifinals, but they will be leaving Tokyo with something a medal can’t compete with: each other.
Semedo and Vaz da Veiga’s proposal is also not the first to take place on the world’s stage in Tokyo this summer.
Argentine fencer María Belén Pérez Maurice lost 15-2 to Hungary's Anna Marton in the sabre competition at the Olympics, but in that defeat, she gained much more.
In a post-match interview, Maurice’s boyfriend and coach of 17 years, Lucas Saucedo, held up a sign that read "Te queres casar conmigo??? Po favo,” which translates to “Will you marry me, please?”
"I love her," Secedo said, USA Today reported. "So when she lost the match, she felt very, very sad. So maybe this proposal will change the mentality of the situation."
Secedo proposed to Maurice once before, in 2010 while the two were in Paris, but she turned him down because she felt she was too young. Now, she’s all in.
"We love each other so much. Now we want to spend our life together," Pérez Maurice, 36, later recalled in English. "We were talking about this (getting married), but I didn't know.”
"We are always doing something," Pérez Maurice added. "We are very good partners. We have fun with each other."