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INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE

No. 11 Agitos Foundation extends impact

In 2015 Agitos Foundation projects helped athletes and coaches on their road to the Toronto 2015 Parapan Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 21 Dec 2015
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Group picture at an Agitos Foundation workshop

Agitos Foundation

“I love my impairment because thanks to it, I am where I am today, and if I were to be born again, I would like to be born this way, because this has led me to so many things."

The Agitos Foundation has extended its impact in 2015, supporting many coaches and athletes to qualify for and compete at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games, some whom reached the podium.

The Foundation also launched a similar project for the road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and continued supporting para-sport around the world via the Grant Support Programme (GSP) and Organisational Capacity Programme (OCP).

These achievements make it to No. 11 of the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.

In August, 1,600 athletes from 28 countries gathered in Toronto, Canada, for the Parapans.

Some of those athletes had been helped on their journey by the Agitos Foundation who, alongside the Toronto 2015 Organising Committee, trained 120 coaches, classifiers and sport managers across the Americas in the lead-up to the competition. They had access to experts from the world of para-sport with years of experience, and schooled participants in the nuances of training, managing and classifying para-athletes.

Puerto Rico’s Lourdes Vega attended the swimming training course for coaches in Mexico City. One of the four swimmers Vega coached, Darwin Baez, went on to win bronze in the 50m freestyle S12 at Toronto 2015.

Reflecting on how the course helped her to prepare athletes, Vega said: “At that time I only had two swimmers and my experience was in able-bodied sport. After the workshop I could engage two new swimmers who reached MQS [minimum qualification standard] for Toronto last June.

“The course in Mexico was the seed of all this.”

The Agitos Foundation followed on from the Road to Toronto 2015 with the Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation Sessions, launched in April 2015.

Run in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, the three workshops have similar aims to the Toronto 2015 edition: to develop capacity, coaching and training in para-sport in the Americas.

Several athletes who took part in the first sessions in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April also achieved success in Toronto. Darwin Castro, guided by Sebastian Rosero, won Ecuador’s first Parapan American Games medal with bronze in the 5,000m T11.

Other success stories include Luis Herazo, a Colombian javelin thrower. His coach Jesus Kergelen also took part in the Road to Toronto 2015.

After being identified during an Agitos Foundation supported project in Monteria, Colombia, in 2013, Herazo’s feet have barely touched the ground.

He won bronze at a national competition in Medellin in November 2014, and was then sent to Sao Paulo in July 2015 for the Road to Rio 2016 training and education session for athletes. He has since become the national record holder in the javelin F36 and is a firm prospect for the next Paralympic Games.

"Most of the people bullied me and they looked at me with pity, but I have always thought of myself as a normal person, always keeping a positive attitude!” Herazo, who shared his story in a video about the project, said.

“I love my impairment because thanks to it, I am where I am today, and if I were to be born again, I would like to be born this way, because this has led me to so many things."

The Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation sessions will conclude in January 2016.

Other notable achievements in 2015 for the Agitos Foundation include the continuation of the GSP and OCP.

Now in its third edition, the GSP has supported 93 projects and invested a total of two million Euros into para-sport development projects around the world.

The 2015 edition is supporting 17 National Paralympic Committees, three Regional Organisations, 10 International Federations and one International Organisation of Sports for the Disabled to deliver 31 projects.

The OCP, which was launched in 2014, has so far involved 920 people from 39 NPCs in five regions and by the time it concludes in 2016 those involved will have attended an initial training workshops and gone on to deliver at least four of their own workshops within their countries.

In Puerto Rico, the NPC has used the OCP workshops to bring together government organisations, National Federations, coaches and managers and managed to establish better relationships between the groups. This has led to a strengthening of support for para-sport in the country.

Puerto Rico held a national qualification event as a result of the training received, allowing the country to send the largest delegation to a Parapan American Games since 1999 with 29 athletes.

This year also saw the Agitos Foundation win its first ever award, taking the Best Disability Sports Contributor at the Ghana Sports Excellence Awards in Accra in January.

To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.