More than 340 athletes from 21 countries will compete in over 80 medal events starting on Monday (14 November) as the track and field competition opens at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Five days of competition in the newly built Telmex Athletics Stadium will see many experienced athletes go head-to-head with a number of young and upcoming athletes.
Amongst the big names set to compete in Guadalajara is Brazil’s visually impaired sprinter Terezinha Guilhermina, the world record holder and world champion at 100m, 200m and 400m T11. Guilhermina has already stated she wants to become the first female para-athlete to run under 12 seconds in Mexico however she may be beaten to that accolade by Cuba’s T46 sprinter Yunidis Castillo.
Also lining up on the track are two of the world’s fastest men over 100m in the T44 class – world bronze medalist Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of Brazil and the USA’s Blake Leeper who came fifth at the IPC Athletics World Championships.
Many of the athletes taking part in Guadalajara will be looking to meet qualification times for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, whilst many of the younger athletes will be just taking in the experience with the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games more likely their aim.
With 66 athletes hosts Mexico has the largest team for the track and field events, followed by Venezuela with a team of 50. At the other end of the scale Uruguay and Bermuda has just one athlete each competing.
Alvaro Perez, a visually impaired runner, will be Uruguay’s sole representative in the 400m and 800m, while T53 racer Jessica Cooper Lewis will be the first athlete to represent Bermuda at a Parapan American Games when she competes in the 100m, 200m and 400m.