Mexico’s Luis Fernando Zapien, the 10,000m bronze medalist from the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand, cannot wait for the Parapan American Games to get underway this weekend as it will give him the opportunity to compete in his home city of Guadalajara.
After losing his sight in an accident, the 36-year-old did not consider that an athletics career was ahead of him.
However, he discovered his talent for the sport after playing a football match with a friend followed by a street race during a clothing donation drive held in the Municipality of Zapopan. Nearby is the Telemex Athletics Stadium, the venue of all track and field events for the Games which get underway on Saturday (12 November)
Little by little, Zapien began training with coaches and other guides from the Guadalajara Municipal Sports Development Council and the Jalisco State Sports Development Council (CODE).
Under the guidance of Basilio Navarro and Margarito Alonso, Zapien became a high-performance athlete and a medal winner at the Rio 2007 Parapan American Games and January’s World Championships.
With an 11-year sports career in the sport, the Jalisco native and his guide Juan Carlos Mariscal are now working hard toward a London 2012 Paralympics Games qualification.
As locals, both are thrilled that the Parapan American Games will be held in Guadalajara between 12-20 November and are looking forward to competing in the 1,500m and 5,000m T11 races.
Zapien is the current 5,000m Parapan Games record holder with a time of 16:35 and is determined to win gold in his home Games. However, he is likely to face stiff competition from Brazil’s Odair Santos who claimed a hat-trick of world titles in 2011 winning the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m.