More than a dozen athletes with local ties returned home - many of them to Champaign-Urbana - from the Tokyo Paralympics this week carrying hardware.

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Bonnie Blair. With five golds and one bronze, the speedskater from Champaign is Olympic royalty. And her name is still revered among the greats in East Central Illinois.

'My message would be to enjoy the journey,' Rantoul’s Blake Schilb says after his Olympic basketball experience. 'That no matter what believe in yourself and surround yourself with positive people who may also believe in similar ideas.'

The plan for Centennial’s weight room and Hall of Fame wall is part of athletic director Kaleb Carter and assistant athletic director Justin Barnhart's plan to connect the brand new features at the renovated Centennial to the great athletes that have walked the halls of the school in decades past.

Thirteen athletes from the University of Illinois wheelchair track team will head to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympics after the teams were announced Thursday.

Is Dee Brown the best Illini basketball player of all-time? What about Deron Williams? Should Jean Driscoll and Tatyana McFadden be under consideration for the Illinois athletics Hall of Fame? Our columnist weighs in after hearing plenty of feedback on top Illini athletes, coaches, teams and more

Top moments? Top performances? There were plenty of them. Beat writer Scott Richey highlights the best and brightest teams, coaches and athletes from the past 12 months on the Illinois athletics scene — and also looks ahead to what is sure to be an unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic