The 2016 Paralympic Games start Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, which means viewers will trade one weird mascot for another. Say goodbye to the Olympics' cat-monkey Vinicius and hello to Tom, the magical leaf-headed creature who represents the sporting event for athletes with disabilities.
Tom was born on Oct. 2, 2009 out of the excitement that followed Brazil's victory in securing the games, according to the Rio 2016 website. He's a blend of the best parts of Brazil's plants, with hair made of leaves and an antennae he uses to show how he's feeling or what he's doing. Tom lives on a water lily and likes to skateboard.
Tom is "transforming all the time with determination and joy, like plants that are always moving, growing toward the sun and overcoming obstacles," a narrator says in an audio biography of Tom on the Rio 2016 site. "He has a really cool power: He can solve any problem by pulling anything out of his full head of foliage."
Tom and Vinicius are friends and even have a secret handshake.
Tom was named in December 2014 after a poll of 325,000 people. His namesake, Antônio Carlos "Tom" Jobim, was a composer who wrote the famous Brazilian song "The Girl from Ipanema." Birdo Produções designed him.
"His mission is simple: to inspire people to use their creativity and determination to reach beyond their limits," the Paralympic Movement wrote in an article on its website.
Tom has been using his social media accounts to count down to the start of the Paralympics, but last month he posted several Instagram photos of the Olympics. He watched the Brazil-Germany men's soccer game and hung out with author Marcelo Rubens Paiva.
In 2018, the Paralympic mascot will be Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear who will promote the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea alongside Soohorang, a white tiger, Reuters reported. Bandabi intends to be an icon of courage and willpower.