“It is important for us that they still wanted to stage the Worlds in Mexico City after what happened. We have never had such a big Para sport event in our country. It is very motivating to have people from around the world gathering here."
Amalia Perez was training with her coach and husband Enrique Alvarado ahead of the World Championships due to begin on 30 September when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Mexican capital city.
“We were about to finish training when everything started trembling. Luckily we could evacuate quite fast. Then we waited for some awful moments to finish,” recalled the three-time Paralympic powerlifting champion.
“But even though my husband and I were fine, I could not stop thinking about our daughter Melissa who was at school. If she was okay. It was horrible until we contacted her and knew everything was fine with her, as well as with our other relatives and friends.”
The 44-year-old is still amazed at the fast and generous response of the Mexican people following the devastating earthquake, which killed hundreds and caused major infrastructural damage.
“It was a huge act of solidarity by so many people, a proof of what human beings are capable of when we care about the other and act all together,” said Perez. “This was not new to Mexico, as we had suffered other earthquakes in the country.
“And 32 years ago, another strong earthquake had hit the capital city. It is a horrible moment, with people dying or living but seeing their homes getting destroyed. But the country got united in every occasion to move forward.
“We are a country with generous people. We all find a way to help. It shows we can always find a solution to whichever the problem is if we work together.”
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Agitos Foundation launched a global fundraising campaign to support UNICEF’s humanitarian efforts in Mexico. To date over USD 40,000 has been raised.
“Not just Mexicans, but people from around the world immediately helped us recover. It was very nice. In the hardest and most difficult moments is when the best comes out from each person, trying to give a hand to those in need,” said Perez.
The powerlifting competition at Mexico City 2017 will now take place from 2-8 December. Reigning world champion and world record-holder Perez will be the strong favourite for gold in the women’s up to 55kg,
“It is important for us that they still wanted to stage the Worlds in Mexico City after what happened. We have never had such a big Para sport event in our country. It is very motivating to have people from around the world gathering here,” she said.
“I want to represent my country more than ever. After what we lived, I want to make people at least a bit happier, hopefully by reaching the top of the podium and celebrating with them.
“It will be a tough competition, but the home crowd will give me extra strength. I will try to win gold for the Mexican people. I am proud of representing them and am working very hard to do so the best I can.”
More information is available on Mexico City 2017’s website.