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News > Japan

Latin American Para-Athletes to Compete at Tokyo Paralympics

  • Cuban sprinter Omara Durand

    Cuban sprinter Omara Durand | Photo: Twitter/ @portalcuba

Published 23 August 2021

Cuban sprinter Omara Durand comes to Tokyo to race for her eight-year-old daughter Ericka, whom she confessed to being her biggest inspiration.

From August 24 to September 5, some 4,500 athletes from 163 countries will participate in the 16th Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo.


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Under the slogan "United by emotion," these athletes will compete in 540 events belonging to 22 sports disciplines, among which badminton and taekwondo will be premiered. Below are the profiles of the trajectory of Latin American athletes.

Omara Durand. Born in 1991, she has a visual impairment that prevents her from seeing in the distance due to a congenital cataract and astigmatism. This Cuban sprinter comes to Tokyo to race for her eight-year-old daughter Ericka, whom she confessed to being her biggest inspiration.

With her coach Miriam Ferrer and guide Yuniol Kindelan, Durand seeks new victories so as to keep her 10-years unbroken record. Besides winning five gold medals in the 2012 London Olympics, she holds the world records for her category in 100 meters (11.40 sec), 200 meters (23.03 sec), and 400 meters (51.77 seconds).

Along with the Jamaican sprint Usain Bolt's hand prints, her prints are also engraved in Peru’s National Athletics Stadium. This honor was granted to her during the Parapanamerican Games of Lima 2019.

Carlos Serrano. He is a Colombian para-swimmer who suffers from a birth disorder that prevents bones from growing and generates dwarfism. Despite this, he won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. 

"We work very hard without giving up. Every day we train twice a day, from Monday to Saturday," the 23-year-old athlete said about Tokyo Paralympics, in which he will compete in the 200m individual combo style, 100m breaststroke style, 50m butterfly style, and 50m freestyle.

Amalia Perez. She is a Mexican para-weightlifter who holds five Paralympic medals and a world record in her category (61 kg). Born in 1973, in Mexico City, Perez suffers from congenital arthrogryposis, which causes contractures in the extremities, limitation of joint movement, muscle weakness, and fibrosis.

However, she started practicing sports at the age of six, dabbling in swimming as part of her rehabilitation. Before definitely practicing weight lifting, she also practiced basketball, athletics, and table tennis. Perez trained for the 2004 Athens games until she was almost seven months pregnant. She qualifies her daughter as her highest reward.

Hernan Barreto. He is an Argentine para-sprint who is determined to look for a gold medal in Tokyo since he won three bronze medals in the London and Rio Paralympics in the 100 and 200 meters competitions.

Born in 1991, Barreto lives with the aftermath of cerebral palsy. Before turning to athletics, he worked cutting grass to help his mother and seven siblings financially. A fan of Boca Juniors Club Atletico, he is considered by the Argentine Paralympic Committee as one of the best para-athletes of his nation.

Daniel Diaz. He is a Brazilian para-swimmer who holds 24 Paralympic medals, 33 Parapanamerican titles, and 40 medals in World Championships. Born in 1988 with a malformation of his arms, Diaz decided to practice swimming after the 2004 Athens Olympics, where his compatriot Clodoaldo Da Silva competed.

Diaz swims between five and eight kilometers a day and competes in three categories in his sport despite not being tall (1.73 meters). This swimmer also studied Physical Education and engineering in mechatronics at San Francisco University in Brazil and has two children.

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