With 112 athletes, Venezuela will send one of the biggest delegations to fourth Youth Parapan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 20-25 March.
Aruba will send two athletes, Costa Rica and Canada three each, whilst USA will send sitting volleyball team.
Aruba will make their debut at the Youth Parapans. Track and field athletes Shenely Tromp and Yurwin Maduro will be the country’s two representatives.
Swimmer Emma Sonnemann and table tennis players Curtis Caron and Gabriel Seguin will be Canada’s three representatives.
Caron is the most experienced, having won silver in the men’s team class 6-8 alongside Ian Kent and Masoud Mojtahed at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
Canada´s only participation at the Youth Parapans was four years ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The women’s wheelchair basketball team won silver, the country’s only medal at those Games.
Swimmer Camila Haase will be Costa Rica’s main medal hope. She was amongst the 30 athletes and coaches identified and trained in Bogota, Colombia, last February, as part of the ‘Road to Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games’ programme.
“This is a great opportunity for young athletes to test themselves against others on the international level,” said Haase. “I am very happy and proud for having the chance to represent Costa Rica again.”
Last year, the 16-year-old competed at her first Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil, finishing eighth in the women´s 100m breaststroke SB8.
Costa Rica participated in the Youth Parapans for the first time in 2013, winning two silvers and one bronze.
Sao Paulo 2017 will be the USA’s second experience competing at the Youth Parapan American Games after winning gold in women’s wheelchair basketball at Buenos Aires 2013.
This time, a women’s sitting volleyball team will take part. The USA will face Brazil and Venezuela in a round-robin format, with the two best teams playing against each other again in the gold-medal match.
Teams will be made up of three athletes and one substitute, aged 14-20 years old, unlike Paralympic sitting volleyball where each team has six players on the court, and games will be played on a smaller court.
“With the reduced size of the court, I think there will have to be some smarter play about our attack shots and serving, since we are losing a full metre of depth and two metres crosscourt”, said US Head Coach Elliot Blake.
“Our number one priority is to develop an appropriate system of play in this 3-on-3 format.
“With the uncertainty of who will comprise the other teams, it is impossible to say where we think or hope to finish. However, we do expect to challenge our opponents in every match.”
Over 100 athletes will represent Venezuela at Sao Paulo 2017, looking to improve on the country’s performance at Buenos Aires 2013. Four years ago, they won 26 golds, 18 silvers and 22 bronzes to finish fourth in the medals table.
Venezuela will have athletes competing across nine sports: athletics, boccia, football 7-a-side, powerlifting, swimming, sitting volleyball, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro presented the national flag to the delegation prior to their departure to Sao Paulo. “Raise the national flag as high as possible, with all the pride and love you can give. You Para athletes are heroes,” he said.
Over 800 athletes, aged 12-20 years old, from 20 countries are expected to participate in Sao Paulo, with 12 sports being contested: athletics, boccia, football 5, football 7, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
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. Fourteen countries attended the event in Bogota, Colombia, in 2009.
For more information, visit Sao Paulo 2017’s website.