No. 20 Team Agitos athletes impress, help raise awareness

The Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), partnered with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee to improve coaching and Para sport standards as part of the legacy of Latin America’s first Paralympic Games. Over 300 coaches, classifiers and athletes took part in this programme, including eight different Latin American athletes whose incredible stories were told in a series of videos launched in July to tell their journey to Rio 2016. This enters at No. 20 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2016. All the athletes from the series came from different backgrounds and had benefitted from training and expertise provided during the Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation Sessions programme. “Being part of this programme was a very nice and enriching experience for me. It is thanks to the Agitos Foundation that the world started to know more about me,” said Cuba’s multi-Paralympic champion Omara Durand, whose story is told in the video series. In Rio, the 25-year-old sprinter re-confirmed her status as the world’s fastest female Paralympian, winning the 100m, 200m and 400m T12 and setting two world and one Paralympic records along the way. The other seven featured athletes in the series were Ecuador’s Darwin Castro, Mexico’s Eliezer Buenaventura, Cuba’s Yunidis Castillo, Brazil’s Cecilia de Araujo and Washington do Nascimento, and Colombia’s Luis Herazo and Maria Paula Barrera. Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Castillo took part in a training camp funded by the Agitos Foundation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015. “It was very interesting because they explained to the Paralympic athletes, many of whom were very young, that life goes beyond sports and you can still be useful to society once retired,” she said. The short videos showed everything from the athletes’ background and lives to their daily training and competitions. They were published on the Agitos Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and picked up by broadcasters in the Americas. With the help of the Agitos Foundation’s support, the countries enjoyed a successful Paralympic Games. Brazil was the region’s most decorated, sealing 14 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes to finish eighth in the medals table. Cuba won 15 medals overall made up of eight golds, one silver and six bronzes, including its first Paralympic swimming title ever through Lorenzo Perez in the men’s 100m freestyle S6, whilst Mexico sealed four Rio 2016 titles. Colombia claimed Paralympic gold again after 36 years, winning 17 medals overall, 15 more than at London 2012, to cap off their best Paralympic performance ever. Argentina also made history by putting an end to their 20-year-long gold medal drought through Yanina Martinez in the women’s 100m T36. In order to continue developing Para sports in the continent as part of the legacy of Rio 2016, the Inter-American Development Bank also announced that it will join the Paralympic Movement by giving nearly EUR 600,000. But the Americas were not the only continent supported by the Agitos Foundation. A total of 21 National Paralympic Committees from around the world, two International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled, one Regional Organisation and nine International Federations will receive a share of EUR 650,000 as part of the 2016 Grant Support Programme. The chosen projects include a proposal from the Hellenic, Serbia and Cyprus Paralympic Committee to take Para sport to refugees in Greece, Cyprus and Serbia, following the participation of the Independent Paralympic Athletes’ Team, made up of two refugees, at Rio 2016. In 2016, the Agitos Foundation also announced its partnership with the Nippon Foundation to promote inclusion and participation in Asia ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Ghana, Cameroon, Haiti and Argentina benefitted from EUR 1,000, EUR 800, EUR 600 and EUR 400 respectively to promote their athletes and Para sport in the final two months ahead of, during and after the Paralympics. The countries are all part of the first round of the Agitos Foundation’s Organisational Capacity Programme (OCP), which aims to give NPCs the skills they need to grow and develop. To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.