The story behind each medal won by the four Para athletes, during the press conference about the Lima 2019closing ceremony, is the true reflection that everything is possible in life. Peruvian athletes Israel Hilario and Angélica Espinoza, Colombian Angélica Bernal, as well as Brazilian Verónica Hipólito, showed their immense gratitude with the organization of the Parapan American Games.
Hilario (Para cycling) and Espinoza (Para taekwondo) won two gold medals for Peru yesterday and thrilled the fans. Hilario achieved a better record in the time trial event, despite competing in an integrated race against opponents with a lesser physical impairment. The athlete from Huánuco thanked Lima 2019.
“These Parapan American Games became a very important vehicle for social inclusion, because athletes with an impairment have demonstrated that we are productive and represent Peru with dignity,” said Hilario, Lima 2019 Ambassador, who won gold in Para road cycling.
Likewise, Espinoza stated that Lima 2019 became one more reason for hope for the Para athletes. “With these Games it was demonstrated that many things can be improved with opportunities, because we have always had spirit and sacrifice, and surely in Santiago 2023 you will see a more important delegation in terms of results,” she mentioned.
The story of Brazilian Hipólito is moving. After overcoming 203 benign tumors that made her unable to train since 2007, she reached the last quota for Lima 2019 in the final stretch. Not even the two head surgeries that prostrated her two years in bed could with her energy. She will take home three silver medals and the affection of Peru.
“I enjoyed these Games more than the ones in Toronto because I literally came back from nowhere. Doctors said I could not compete again and winning a medal was illogical. Life brought me to Peru and I leave grateful to everyone and my message is that sport is only the first step for an inclusive society. We can regain happiness with sport,” stated Veronica, a former world and Parapan American champion.
Finally, Colombian Bernabe, who won gold and silver medal in wheelchair tennis (singles and doubles) also obtained a quota for Tokyo 2020. She never gave up despite losing her right leg and today is among the best in the Americas. “Peru did a great job of inclusion that could be imitated by other countries,” she said.