As we approach the Americas Paralympic Committee’s 20th anniversary on 1 August, it seems only right that its own creation should figure pretty highly in its top 20 Moments - and so it does, at No.2.
The Americas Paralympic Committee (APC) was established on 1 August 1997, as a consequence of the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Chief Executive Xavier Gonzalez and Carol Mushett, chair of the IPC's Sports Council, called for a summit in Atlanta, USA, with the purpose of creating the 'Americas Region', made up of North, South and Central America. Since the meeting the region has been growing continuously with very clear purposes and goals to achieve.
Argentina's Jose Luis Campo was elected APC founding President in 1997 and served two terms until 2005, when he was replaced by Brazil’s Andrew Parsons. Colombia’s Octavio Londono was President from 2009-2013. Campo was elected again in 2013 and served as President until 2017, when he was re-elected for a fourth term.
In the beginning, most of the countries did not have a National Paralympic Committee (NPC), and the majority of the members of the IPC from the Americas Region were federations for visually impaired, wheelchair athletes or the government. Therefore, the process of education about the Paralympic Movement was a big challenge.
Parapan American Games
The dream of organising a regional event became a reality in November 1999, with the first edition of the Parapan American Games being held in Mexico City. A total of 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competed across four sports: athletics, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball. The Parapans have taken place every four years ever since. More information about the Parapan American Games is available online.
In order to help develop and increase the depth and quality of the sporting field across the Americas, the Youth Parapan American Games were created, with the first edition taking place in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, between 22-30 October 2005. The Games have been celebrated every-four years since, with athletes aged 12-21 competing.
The first-ever Para South American Games were held in Santiago, Chile, in March 2014, with 583 athletes from eight countries competing across six sports for five days. One year before, San Jose, Costa Rica, staged the inaugural edition of the Para Central American Games from 13-21 April 2013. Athletes from the host country, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama competed.