Double wheelchair tennis Parapan American champion Gustavo Fernandez is hoping to win a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games after losing in the quarter-finals four years ago, in London.
The 22-year-old, who won his first singles Grand Slam title at Roland Garros earlier this year, will also be Argentina’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.
“I have been preparing for this Paralympic Games for the last four years,” he said.
“This event is the high point in a Paralympic athlete’s career. I am very proud to represent my country again and am hoping to live an amazing week.
“I have always thought of Rio as a lively city. I will have my family there supporting me and am already anxious.”
France’s World No.1 Stephane Houdet, his victor at London 2012, Japan’s two-time Paralympic gold medallist Shingo Kunieda and Great Britain’s 2016 Australian Open champion Gordon Reid will also be pushing for gold in Rio.
“I have chances to climb onto the podium and will give my best to win a medal, but it will be very difficult,” said Fernandez.
“Hopefully, I will arrive in Rio in my best possible shape and meet my objectives.”
Besides competition itself, Fernandez feels honoured to have been named to carry Argentina’s flag at the Opening Ceremony of Rio 2016, at the mythic Maracana Stadium.
“I am still not totally aware that I will be my country’s flagbearer. This is a beautiful responsibility which I did not expect to have. I love being Argentinian,” he said.
Last year’s Wimbledon doubles champion recalls the 2012 Paralympics as one of the most enriching experiences in his life.
“I remember having 10 unforgettable, incredible and intense days. I was very young by that time but still managed to handle the pressure,” he said.
“Now I am much more experienced and will compete in Rio as a better player.”
Fernandez devotes 11 months of each year to wheelchair tennis and cannot imagine himself without holding a racket in his hand.
“I play tennis, talk about tennis and feel tennis,” he said.
“I enjoy being where I am because I earned it after a lot of hard work.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.