"It was really nice to meet Petrucio. I had a lot of fun and one day I want to be a champion like him"
Brazil's Paralympic and world champion Petrucio Ferreira was one of the stars of the National Paralympic Athletes’ Day celebrated on Saturday (22 September) in 48 cities around the country.
More than 7,000 children and teenagers took part in the so-called Paralympic Festival – organised by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) – and experienced Para sports for the first time.
One of them was seven years old Rian Mendes who had the opportunity to race with Ferreira in Joao Pessoa, capital of Paraiba state where both Mendes and the Paralympic gold medallist come from.
This is not the only thing they share in common. They both have a similar impairment and love to run.
"It was really nice to meet Petrucio and practice sport. I had a lot of fun and one day I want to be a champion like him,” said Mendes.
“It is a pleasure to be involved and I feel very happy to see so many kids practicing Para sport. It is a great initiative from CPB to bring a new generation to the sport,” said the athletics class T47 sprinter.
Other Paralympians like Terezinha Guilhermina (athletics), Ricardinho and Jefinho (blind football), Aline Rocha (Para cross-country), Patricia Santos and Camille Rodrigues (swimming) participated in the festival.
"CPB has expanded the frontiers of Para sport in Brazil to show to all Brazilians what the sport represents for people with disabilities," said CPB President Mizael Conrado.
Two-time Paralympic champion in blind football, Conrado called the event one of “the happiest moments at CPB’s history”.
“We believe in this model to bring opportunities through sport and I feel very emotional with this event.”
The organisation of the Paralympic Festival involved around 2,500 people. CPB announced the event will take place again in 2019 and has plans to expand it to more cities.