Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Paraguay look to change perception with Paralympic debut

'There is still ignorance about the physical and sports activities that people with disabilities can access and the benefits they bring to health, to the improvement of the quality of life and, above all, that they can represent an entire country' 11 Aug 2021
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Para athletes (L) Melissa Nair Tillner Galeano with her guide and (R) Rodrigo Hermosa will represent in Paraguay's debut Games at Tokyo.
ALL SET FOR WORLD STAGE: Para athletes (L) Melissa Nair Tillner Galeano with her guide and (R) Rodrigo Hermosa will represent in Paraguay's debut Games at Tokyo.
ⒸNPC Paraguay
By AMP Media I For The IPC

Paraguay will take a step into the unknown at Tokyo 2020 as it makes a first appearance in a Paralympic Games.

It was approved as a provisional member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2018 and was granted full membership at the 2019 General Assembly. It is the 33rd member from the Americas to join the IPC.

Hignia Giosa, the inaugural Paraguayan Paralympic Committee president, a former athlete, physical education teacher and Paraguayan Olympic Committee governing board member, believes that the decision to join will be very important for sports in Paraguay.

“In our country, very few people know about Paralympic sports and the Paralympic Movement, so I hope this will encourage interest,” she said. “We hope that the journalistic media in their sports pages support our participation so that there is visibility.

“There is still ignorance about the physical and sports activities that people with disabilities can access and the benefits they bring to health, to the improvement of the quality of life and, above all, that they can represent an entire country.

Paraguay athletes (L) Rodrigo Hermosa and (C) Melissaa Nair Tillner Galeano. ©NPC Paraguay

“For Paraguay, it is an immense joy, pride and great responsibility to be included for the first time in the largest sporting event for people with disabilities at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”

Paraguay has been developing Para athletics, Para cycling, goalball, Para swimming, Para table tennis, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis as part of a five-year campaign.

That meant, it was necessary to have an entity that represented athletes with disabilities which could then lead to international competition. The road to reach the Paralympic Movement began with the participation of national sports federations to form the Paraguayan Paralympic Committee.

THE PROMISING FUTURE

Two athletes, S9 swimmer Rodrigo Hermosa and T12 runner Melissa Nair Tillner Galeano, have been given wild cards to compete at Tokyo 2020.

Eighteen-year-old Hermosa showed tremendous promise after he won two bronze medals in his first international competition, Columbia’s famous Barranquilla Athletics and Swimming Open, when he was just 15.

The freestyle sprinter, who is missing part of his right arm, then went on to swim at the Parapan American Games in Lima where Tillner Galeano was the flag bearer.

The runner, who competed in the 100m, 200m and 400m in Peru, has recently celebrated her 21st birthday.

Paraguay will be sending a party of 10 people in total, including Giosa, who handed over the presidency to Juan Manuel Fernandez in March.

Describing her emotions when the Paraguay flag is carried into the stadium, she added: “I will be happy, proud and excited to the bone to be a participant. It’s a dream come true in such a short time since the Paraguayan Paralympic Committee was formed four years ago.

“I see a promising future, I believe that with our participation, many people with disabilities will be encouraged and will approach the different sports federations to start sports, since the Paralympic Games will set the example that everyone can practice a sport.”