Carlos Serrano reflects on the Youth Parapan AmsWith 100 days to go until the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games, Colombia´s Paralympic champion looks back on his performance at Buenos Aires 2013. 10 Dec 2016
“The gold medals I won at those Youth Parapan American Games motivated me to keep practising hard and eventually seal Paralympic gold at Rio 2016. It gave me the impulse to become one of the world´s best swimmers."
Carlos Serrano´s journey to Paralympic gold at Rio 2016 began three years ago, when the Colombian swimmer burst onto the international scene by sealing multiple gold medals at the Buenos Aires 2013 Youth Parapan American Games.
Since then, the teenage sensation has not stopped improving to eventually put an end to Colombia´s 36-year-old Paralympic gold medal drought in Rio, winning the men´s 100m breaststroke SB7 with a world record time of 1:12.50.
With 100 days to go until the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games, the young swimmer recalls what that event meant for his career.
“Buenos Aires 2013 was extremely important for me because it was my first big opportunity to showcase my skills on an international level,” said Serrano, who also won a world title in Glasgow, Great Britain, in 2015.
“The gold medals I won at those Youth Parapan American Games motivated me to keep practising hard and eventually seal Paralympic gold at Rio 2016. It gave me the impulse to become one of the world´s best swimmers.
“It was there that my career started. I lived that great experience as a young enthusiastic kid who had the first opportunity to represent his country.”
Two years later, Serrano stunned at the Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada, winning five titles, all in Games record times. But not satisfied with what he had achieved, the 18-year-old went on to seal one gold, one silver and one bronze at Latin America´s first Paralympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Winning Paralympic gold in Rio was just spectacular,” he said. “That day I woke up highly motivated, convinced it would end up being the best day in my life.
“And it was. But it would have been harder to achieve without that first experience in Buenos Aires, where I learned that it is not easy to accomplish your life dreams and everything requires a lot of effort.”
Next year, Serrano will be competing at the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City, from 30 September-6 October, but he is already targeting further success.
“I want to defend my world title in 2017, but I am also planning my journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where I will try to give my best to see the Colombian flag being raised very high once again,” he said.
The fourth edition of the Youth Parapan American Games will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, between 20-25 March and will feature 1,000 athletes, ages 14-20, from 20 countries competing in 12 sports.