Maria de Jesus Trujillo knows the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games will be a ground-breaking opportunity for Peru. It will both help spread Para sports across the country and also leave an accessibility legacy.
“With our performances at the Parapan American Games us, Para athletes, will inspire many people with impairment to take up sports, compete and lead a healthy lifestyle,” the swimmer said. “Many more people will get involved with the Paralympic Movement as a consequence.
“The sporting infrastructure in Lima will improve, which will help Para sports grow after the Games conclude. I strongly believe that.
“Of course the city needs to be ready. In terms of transportation, I have a way to move around Lima but many people do not. In some occasion I tried to take the metro and could not because doors open and close very quickly and it is too full. There are no ramps in the sidewalks.
“We need to raise awareness of that with the help of all Peruvians to build a more accessible country for everyone.”
Despite her youth, Trujillo already made history for Peru by winning silver at Sao Paulo 2017, the country´s first medal at a Youth Parapan American Games.
“I was nervous when travelling to Brazil and was impressed by the talent of so many young athletes from the Americas. I was afraid when I saw the others training in the days prior to the competitions.
“But the Youth Parapans taught me to believe in myself, fight until the end and have confidence and perseverance to achieve my goals. And now I am eyeing the Parapans at home in Peru. I am training hard already.”
Trujillo was born with spina bifida and discovered Para sports only three years ago. “I performed well and started competing in national events,” she said.
“Disability is just a word, but we all have our disabilities. We need to know disabilities are no impediment to making your dreams come true. I am a normal person who grew up like any other child and never felt left aside. I studied at school and now I am focused on sports.
“Para sports have helped me a lot. There are many people with impairment who do not want to leave their houses due to fear. Sports help you become better.
“I want all kids to know there is nothing impossible and with effort we can achieve big things.”
Lima 2019 will be held between 23 August and 1 September and will feature a record 1,850 athletes who will compete across 17 sports.