Earlier today I was at the Para Pan American cycling track competition. I had gotten the chance to interview some of the winners and medalist. First, Greta from the United States who has taken home a silver medal in the 500m race, then a boy who comes from a place I know very well, San Jose, California! Vincent Juarez had gotten second place in the 1000m competition. And finally, Rodrigo Lopez from Argentina, an athlete who left me with my mouth wide open in complete shock! You see, this athlete competed against EIGHTEEN others! EIGHTEEN! He won first place, took a gold medal and with the final time of one minute and six seconds, he broke a world record! I interviewed Rodrigo and he expressed his happiness but he also expressed his determination. He told me this was just one of the many competitions he’s participated in and WILL participate in. Next up, he’ll be going to the United States and London. He was a charming man who despite his disability was not only living a “normal” life; he was going above and beyond!
These past few days have been some of the most amazing. The competitions and the athletes I have met in these past four days have left an impression that I doubt will ever be topped. I can’t express ENOUGH the thoughts, feelings, words that are running through my head at this moment just thinking of these Para Pan American games and the athletes. First sport I covered, Table Tennis, athletes of ALL ages and of different disabilities performed. Then, Boccia, a sport I like to compare to “marbles”. All athletes in this sport are in wheelchair. This sport was initially created for people who had cerebral palsy. However, players with other severe disabilities affecting their motor skills were competing as well. Here I met a group of charming boys, one even called me “gringa”. Today, I was present at the qualifying games of Golbol! A fun game that I got very into! Looks like soccer because it consists of a net, a ball and a field. The players who participated were of all ages, as young as eighteen and they were all blind. Required to perform well in Golbol is discipline, coordination and strength! Mexico won the first game against Argentina 11 to 3 and in the second game, the females lost to canada 1 to 11.
The only thing that disappoints me about these games is the coverage and the support. I went from working as a reporter for the Pan American games to working as a reporter for the Para Pan American games…and I can tell you first hand, that there is a huge difference in the coverage of these games and the support of the people in these games in comparison to the Pan American. I have been focusing some of the stories I have transmitted through SJRTV/C7 on the importance of the support and coverage. Don’t get me wrong, there are people supporting and there is coverage but not as (in my opinion) there should be.
I like to get into details when I interview the athletes.. I ask them, “What goes through your head, what do you feel when you hear your name being chanted or when you look over and people are wearing shirts with YOUR name”. I’ve gotten answers like, “I get nervous but in all honesty it motivates me. For someone to believe in me makes me believe in me even more”.
I feel like I have already seen it all… you think it’s impossible. Well, these games have proved to me that nothing is impossible. And that no matter what your case may be, where you come from and what you have been through, if you are determined, you can do ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO. I love what I have studied and what I have become, a reporter… I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do, meet people, ALL KIND of people and learn about them! Not only learn about them but also tell others their stories. These are only the first days of these games; I can’t imagine what else I will see in the days to come. Whatever it is, I promise to share! For now, I share with you some photos…. Enjoy!