By Nick Butler

The two winners at the Brazilian Paralympic Awards celebrate 1,000 days to go until their home Games ©Alex Ferro/Rio 2016December 11 - Swimmers Daniel Dias and Susana Schnarndorf were named male and female athletes of the year at the Brazilian Paralympics Awards held alongside celebrations to mark 1,000 days to go until Rio 2016.

Following similar celebrations last month 1,000 days ahead of the Olympics, a number of Paralympic officials together with budding Brazilian competitors came together to celebrate the milestone.

First however was the small matter of the award ceremony where the two swimmers respective performances at the IPC World Championships in Montreal were enough for them to hold off opposition from a variety of other Brazilian stars. 

Held at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, the awards were decided after a public vote and recognised top athletes from all 22 disciplines. 

After winning four gold medals at Beijing 2008, and six more at London 2012, Dias continued his phenomenal success with eight medals - six of them gold - in Montreal. 

This was enough for him to finish ahead of Alan de Oliveira and Odair Santos, both champions at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championship in Lyon, and win the male prize for a second time after also doing so in 2011. 

Daniel Diaz in action at the IPC World Championships in Montreal in August ©AFP/Getty ImagesDaniel Diaz in action at the IPC World Championships in Montreal in August
©AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Dias also became Brazil's first ever two-time recipient of the Laureus Award for his performances at London 2012, an event that saw him become the country's all-time top Paralympic medal winner.

For Schnarndorf on the other hand it was a first award, but after winning the 100 metre breaststroke SB6 world title, she also held off two sprinting world champions, 17-year-old Verônica Hipólito and winner of the last two years, Terezinha Guilhermina.

Guilhermina enjoyed another superb year with three World Championship titles but suffered a bittersweet ending as she also missed out in the IPC Female Athlete of the Year award given last month to Dutch tennis star Esther Vergeer. 

But, like Brazil's other stars, she was involved in the celebrations held alongside the Ceremony. 

A group of Brazil's biggest Paralympic stars celebrate 1000 days to go ©Alex Ferro/Rio 2016A group of Brazil's biggest Paralympic stars celebrate 1000 days to go ©Alex Ferro/Rio 2016

Among those also attending was the Brazilian Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, the national secretary for High Performance Sports Ricardo Leyser and the International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven.

Commenting on the 1,000 days to go milestone Sir Philip, recently re-elected to serve a fourth and final term as President which will conclude after the Games are completed in 2017, described how "Rio and Brazil is tailor made to host the Games."  

He added: "It will have its own distinct flavour and I believe Rio will host amazing Games.

"When the Rio bid team showed the map of the world, demonstrating that South America had never had the Games before, that was it for me.

"I was convinced they should be held here."

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