“To play at home in front of your family and friends is always great and a motivation when you compete. It feelsgood to see people from your country attending the event and cheering for you."
Brazilian table tennis player Danielle Rauen defeated Chile´s Ailyn Espinoza 3-0 on Wednesday (22 March) to top the podium on home soil in the women´s class 9 at the fourth Youth Parapan American Games in Sao Paulo.
The 19-year-old took revenge for the final she lost at the last edition of the Youth Parapans in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2013.
“I am very happy because this is my first gold at this event,” said Rauen, who also claimed gold at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
“To play at home in front of your family and friends is always great and a motivation when you compete. It feels good to see people from your country attending the event and cheering for you.
“Many young athletes emerge from the Youth Parapans. This is a great opportunity for them to showcase their talents. Buenos Aires 2013 gave my career a huge boost because it was there that I claimed my first international medal. Nothing was the same since then.”
Rauen is also stunned at the Brazilian Paralympic Centre, where 11 of the 12 sports take place, a major structural legacy of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“This is a huge sports facility, the best one I have ever been to,” she said. “The structure is first-class; I have never seen something like this. For us, athletes, our ´home´ looks very pretty.”
This is not the first time Rauen reached the podium at a competition held in Brazil. Last year, she took bronze in the women´s team classes 6-10 alongside Jennyfer Marques and Bruna Costa Alexandre at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“To win that medal in front of a crowd that never stopped chanting ´Brazil, Brazil´ was very emotional. I will forever cherish that moment,” she said.
“Since last year´s Paralympics, Rio improved a lot in terms of accessibility. And I am sure it will continue improving thanks to Sao Paulo 2017. People´s perceptions towards people with impairment are definitely changing in Brazil!”
With four years to go until Tokyo 2020, Rauen already imagines what it will be like to compete at her second Paralympics. “That is one of my dreams and I am training hard to represent Brazil once again,” she said.
Sao Paulo 2017 will run until 25 March and feature over 800 athletes from 19 countries competing across 12 sports: athletics, boccia, football 5, football 7, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
The last edition at Buenos Aires 2013 attracted more than 600 athletes from 16 countries, who competed across 10 sports. Brazil topped the medal table and 15 countries reached the podium at least once.
Barquisimeto, Venezuela, staged the inaugural edition in 2005, with athletes from 10 countries competing, whilst a total of 14 countries attended the event in Bogota, Colombia, in 2009.
For more information visit Sao Paulo 2017’s website.