“I feel very proud for representing my country. I have trained very hard in order to get to this point,”
The US Virgin Islands, thanks to middle distance runner Ivan Espinosa, are officially a Parapan country after successfully taking part in the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
Along with Aruba, US Virgin Islands made their debut at Toronto 2015 with Espinosa their lone athlete competing in Wednesday’s 1,500m T38 race.
Although the 33-year-old finished eighth in the final, which was won by Canada’s Mitchell Chase in a new Americas record, he felt great pride in representing his country on the world stage.
“I feel very proud for representing my country. I have trained very hard in order to get to this point,” Espinosa assured.
“I hope to be successful. My goal is to make it to Rio,” he added. “If I keep with the training and do everything that is possible, I really believe I can compete at the Paralympic Games.”
He knows it is not going to be easy, but every time he feels leg fatigue, he thinks of his wife Molesa and his sons Ishmael and Marco, and gains the necessary energy.
His coach Keith Smith has a lot of confidence in him.
“Ivan is a wonderful person. He is hardworking and honest. It is a pleasure to train him. He can do great things in the future,” he said.
Besides high level competitions, Espinosa is aiming to fulfil another lifetime dream. “I want to encourage others to start practising sports. Get people involved in Paralympic sports and bring awareness to my country. That is my biggest dream,” he said.
Athletics action at Toronto 2015 is being shown live at the IPC Athletics website.