How the Parapan Ams helped shape Durand’s career

The Cuban sprinter reflects on the impact the Parapan American Games have had on different stages of her career, with 1,000 days to go until Lima 2019. 26 Nov 2016
Omara Durand winning gold in Rio

Omara Durand CUB comes off of the bend with her guide Yuniol Kindelan ahead of Oksana Boturchuk UKR and her guide Volodymyrto Burakov to win the Gold Medal in the Women's 200m - T12 Final in the Olympic Stadium.

ⒸBob Martin for OIS/IOC

“I will keep training hard and, when the moment comes, give it all on the track.”

With 1,000 days to go until the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, the world’s fastest female Paralympian Omara Durand has spoken about the impact previous editions of the event have had on her glittering athletics career.

Over the years, the Parapan American Games have been key to the Cuban’s success story - giving her international experience as a young sprinter, an opportunity to bounce back after one of the biggest disappointments and most recently in 2015 providing an opportunity for a masterful track return after the birth of her first child.

“It was at the Parapan American Games that I could break through different barriers in my life to achieve what I wanted,” said five-time Paralympic champion Durand.

At only 15 years old, Durand showed the world what she was capable of by winning three gold medals at the Rio 2007 Parapan American Games, the first major international competition she took part in.

“Rio was the city where, I would say, I launched my career as a Para athlete, which is why these Games were so important for me,” said the 25-year-old, who has won eight gold medals at three Parapan American Games.

“I learned many things from that experience and I got to know many of the rivals who I would compete against in the following years.

“However, I could not imagine that nine years after I would win three Paralympic titles in that same city, which makes me feel proud. It has given me even more energy to continue achieving things.”

In 2008, Durand suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the Beijing Paralympics, one of the low points of her career.

“I could only recover from that disappointment three years later, when I won two golds at the Christchurch 2011 World Championships and followed that up with another two titles at the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games,” she said.

“All those victories were a proof that I could still go ahead with my dreams in sports and that Beijing had only been a bad experience and I needed to learn from it.”

Following London 2012, where she won her two maiden Paralympic titles, Durand gave birth to her daughter Erika and took a three-year sabbatical from athletics. She only returned in August 2015 to compete at that year’s Parapan American Games.

“Toronto 2015 was the perfect comeback, a resurgence of motivation for me and the beginning of the best stage of my sporting career,” said Durand.

Lima 2019 might still be 1,000 days away, but the Cuban already believes those Games will be as important for her as the previous Parapan Ams were.

“I will keep training hard and, when the moment comes, give it all on the track,” she said.

“This event is really important for the development of Para sports in the Americas and I am sure many more talented athletes will emerge in three years-time.”

The Lima 2019 Parapan American Games will take place from 23 August-1 September and will feature a record 1,850 athletes competing in 17 sports, two more than at Toronto 2015.