"I strongly believe in the transformational power Para sports have.They show us that everything is possible. And the Parapans will once again be a platform to showcase the best they have to offer."
After years covering Para sports, I have probably never been so excited before covering an event than in the lead-up to the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games.
More athletes than ever from around 30 countries are set to compete across 17 sports, two more than at Toronto 2015, making them the biggest Parapans yet. It will be exciting to see badminton, shooting and taekwondo making their debut in the programme.
I am especially interested in watching badminton and taekwondo, as only a year later they will also make their Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020. In many ways, Lima 2019 will be key for athletes to get ready for the second Paralympic Games to be held on Japanese soil.
But this will also be another huge opportunity for Para sports to continue growing in Latin America and the world. Peru have been doing an outstanding job over the last years, with the support of the Americas Paralympic Committee and the Agitos Foundation, and will be more than ready to host one of the world´s biggest Para sport competitions.
Moreover, I am looking forward to experiencing the rich Peruvian culture and interact with its welcoming and passionate people.
I have been travelling across the planet for years now, attending different sporting competitions since I first covered the 2013 Powerlifting Asian Open Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And I am absolutely delighted to see the growth in interest from the media and general public in Para sports.
I strongly believe in the transformational power Para sports have, having experienced it first-hand as my mother Zuray Marcano is also a Paralympic powerlifter. They are magical and they can bring about positive changes to societies. Para athletes are an example to the world and true ambassadors of peace. They show us that everything is possible. And the Parapans will once again be a platform to showcase the best they have to offer.
Covering a Parapan American Games is a unique experience; they leave a mark on every person who is lucky enough to be part of them by witnessing the outstanding performances of these amazing, strong and inspirational human beings that Para athletes are.
I would like to close with a quote from Brazilian blind football superstar Jefinho: “When you see Para sport, you do not see disability, you see real talent.”
Carlos Rizki has been covering Para sports events for years, including the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and Mexico City 2017 World Para Powerlifting and Para Swimming Championships.