More than 800 athletes aged 13-20 from a record 19 countries competed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the biggest edition of the Youth Parapan American Games. Wrapping up on 25 March, the competition was a move in the right direction in developing Para sport in the Americas, a legacy of the Rio 2016 Games.
The brand-new Brazilian Paralympic Centre, a major structural legacy from Latin America’s first Paralympic Games, staged 12 sports. Wheelchair tennis was the only one which took place at the club Esperia.
Brazil finished top of the medals table with 66 golds, 41 silvers and 32 bronzes. They were followed by Colombia, Mexico and Argentina.
“I am sure that this magnificent stage, the greatest legacy of the Paralympic Games, will be a great inspiration for these athletes, who will do their best to obtain results,” said Jose Luis Campo, President of the Americas Paralympic Committee, at the Opening Ceremony.
Andrew Parsons, then President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) and the Organising Committee, said: “The level has increased a lot. If we compare this edition with Buenos Aires 2013, Bogota 2009 and Baquisimeto 2005, we will notice the evolution of the younger athletes. Here we see athletes reaching potential for bigger competitions. So that shows the quality of the youthful athletes we have here in the Americas.”
Children from more than 50 schools visited the Brazilian Paralympic Centre during the Youth Parapans, with many of the students watching Para sports for the first time.
Mona, the Spanish word for a female monkey, was the chosen name for the Sao Paulo 2017 mascot, a female red howler monkey, in a poll conducted on the CPB’s page. The winning-name received 3,053 votes to finish ahead of the other two shortlisted names: Mina, a typical Sao Paulo slang for girls, and Sampa, a nickname for the city of Sao Paulo.
The female red howler monkey can be found in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of whose protected areas is located right next to the brand new Brazilian Paralympic Centre, where the competition took place.