Colombia’s high hopes for Para cycling futureParalympic medallists want to build on strong Rio 2016 performance. 14 Jul 2017
“My dream is to listen to Colombia’s national anthem while standing on the podium.”
Colombia has been a strong cycling nation for many decades, having celebrated the success of many able-bodied cyclists such as Nairo Quintana, Luis Herrera, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran.
Now though, the South American country also has an ever-increasing number of Para cyclists also standing out on the international stage.
Athletics, cycling and swimming were the three sports in which Colombia won medals at Rio 2016, claiming two golds, five silvers and 10 bronze in the country’s Colombia’s best Paralympic performance.
Para cyclists Diego Duenas (men’s individual pursuit C4), Edwin Matiz (men’s individual pursuit C5) and Nestor Ayala (men’s road race T1-2) won three bronze medals in Rio, cementing the sport’s growing reputation, according to Duenas.
“Para cycling is a very important sport in Colombia and has grown a lot, helping many people who have acquired an impairment to take up sports.
“It also helps that Colombia is a country with a large tradition in cycling. That gives more visibility to Para cycling and to Para cyclists.”
National coach Jose Castro agrees. “Para cycling has a strong social side, promoting values and inclusion.
“In order to strengthen the sport across every Colombian region, we conduct international events. Therefore, we can identify more athletes who could eventually compete at major competitions.
“Apart from that, we need to encourage them to study as well, which will help them become better athletes and better human beings.”
Far from feeling satisfied with the bronze in Rio, Matiz aims to go for more at future Paralympic Games. “My dream is to listen to Colombia’s national anthem while standing on the podium,” he said.
“We also need to use social networks to continue raising awareness of the sport in Colombia and have bigger chances of having a Paralympic champion in the future.”