Eliezer Buenaventura fulfilled one of his biggest dreams this year by competing at his first Paralympic Games, with the support of the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
The Mexican track and field athlete finished sixth (51.76m) in the men’s javelin throw F46 at Rio 2016 and, despite hoping to climb onto the podium, Buenaventura left the Brazilian city feeling optimistic about the future.
“Rio was the best experience in my life,” he said. “Yes, I could not achieve the goal I had of at least finishing amongst the top four athletes, but sharing the Paralympic Village with Para athletes from different sports and the whole world was wonderful.”
The 18-year-old was one of 155 athletes, coaches and classifiers who benefitted from expert training during the Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation Sessions, in the lead up to Latin America’s first Paralympic Games.
This programme, organised in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, aimed to improve coaching and Para sport standards as part of the legacy of the Games.
“The Agitos Foundation has helped me make a name for myself internationally and gave me the chance to compete at the highest level whilst still being a young Para athlete with a lot to learn,” said the Mexican.
Buenaventura, who won gold at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, was also one of eight athletes whose incredible stories where told in a video series, on their journey to Rio 2016.
With one Paralympic experience already under his belt, the Mexican set his sights on the World Para Athletics Championships from 14-23 July 2017 in London, Great Britain, and, further ahead, on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Winning the gold medal is every Paralympic athlete’s dream and I am really hoping I can achieve that in Tokyo at 22-years-old,” he said.
“I think by then I will be strong enough to seal a medal, hopefully the gold one with a Paralympic record throw. It is totally achievable, but I need to keep working hard because the road is very long and tough.
“I need to improve my throwing technique and expect to beat my main rivals, first at London 2017.”
The London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships will include 213 medal events and will feature approximately 1,300 athletes, who will compete at the stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The event will be held in the same city in the same summer as the IAAF World Championships for the first time.