"... but I also want to enjoy and have fun at this Youth Parapans."
Rodrigo Villamarin was 15 years old when he made his international debut at the Buenos Aires 2013 Youth Parapan American Games, claiming silver in the men’s up to 49kg.
But with four more years of experience, the Argentinian is hoping to take a leap forward when he competes on Tuesday (21 March), day two of the 2017 Youth Parapan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“It would be very important for me to win gold, but I also want to enjoy and have fun at this Youth Parapans. Not everything is about winning,” he said.
Villamarin is not only excited about the possibility of taking part in this event, but also happy to see the positive impact the Youth Parapans have had on the young Para athletes since its inaugural edition in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, in 2005.
“This event allows youngsters to showcase their abilities on the international scene, launch their sporting careers and measure the potential they have to continue growing as athletes and making their dreams come true,” he said.
The Argentinian also stated that competing at Buenos Aires 2013 helped him grow both as a person and as a professional.
“It was my first international event; I was very anxious and very willing to learn and improve as an athlete,” he said. “But apart from giving my sporting career a boost, in Buenos Aires I learned what Paralympic sports were, how to set goals for myself and to always move forward.
“I also met many different athletes with impairment from across the continent for the first time and was a really nice experience.”
Looking further ahead in his career, Villamarin seems sure about what he would like to achieve: “The Youth Parapans will help me reach other bigger events such as a World Championships and a Paralympic Games,” he said.
“My biggest dream is to qualify for Tokyo 2020 because it is every athlete’s dream to compete at the world´s biggest event.
“I also want to achieve good results in my next events and become one of the best powerlifters in the world.”
The 12 sports at Sao Paulo 2017 are athletics, boccia, football 5, football 7, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
The 2017 Youth Parapan American Games will run until 25 March and feature a record over 800 athletes from 19 countries.
The last edition at Buenos Aires 2013 attracted more than 600 athletes from 16 countries, who competed across 10 sports. Brazil topped the medal table and 15 countries reached the podium at least once.
Barquisimeto, Venezuela, staged the inaugural edition in 2005, with athletes from 10 countries competing, whilst a total of 14 countries attended the event in Bogota, Colombia, in 2009.
For more information, visit Sao Paulo 2017’s website.