Eight years after losing both of his arms due to an electric shock, Efrain Sotacuro will make history by becoming the first Peruvian athlete to compete in the marathon at a Paralympic Games at Rio 2016.
The 26-year-old took up athletics in 2012 and achieved qualification for Rio 2016 at the Sevilla Marathon, last February, after clocking 2:30.17s.
“This is a lifetime goal, I have always dreamed of qualifying for a Paralympic Games,” said Sotacuro.
“I am preparing to represent my country and hope to reach the podium at Rio 2016. That is my biggest dream now.”
Table tennis player Teresa Chiappo at Toronto 1976 and swimmer Jaime Eulert at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 claimed Peru’s only three Paralympic golds so far. Sotacuro now aims to win the fourth one.
“I feel proud of representing my country and I will need good preparation, training and discipline if I want to win the gold medal,” he said.
Para sports were important for Sotacuro after having acquired his impairment at 18 years old.
“Losing your arms is complicated but I move forward. There are people that complain even though they have everything,” he said.
“We [Paralympic athletes] have the talent, the heart and the courage to move forward because everything is possible in life.
“Sports helped me move forward. I have been getting involved with Paralympic sports step by step and now I am preparing for Rio 2016.”
Sotacuro has the support of his family and his country to keep pursuing his dreams.
“I have been recognised in my country for becoming the first Peruvian to qualify for the Paralympic marathon,” he said.
“It will be a great experience for me and my family is happy because thanks to sports I can move forward. They encourage me. There are some people that call me ‘disabled’ but God has given me abilities to become a champion.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.