Brasilia: Brazil will field its largest-ever contingent of athletes at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, participating for the first time in all 22 categories of competition. The Paralympic Games will take place from September 7-18, EFE news reported. The Brazilian delegation was officially announced on Tuesday at Sao Paulo’s Brazilian Paralympic Centre, where the athletes will gather until early September.
The delegation includes total of 278 athletes – 181 men and 97 women – along with 16 athlete-guides for blind runners, three assistants for the “boccia” event and two “5-man soccer” goalkeepers with no vision limitations. Forty-four of the 278 athletes have already won medals in other Paralympic events. “It’s an important step. I’m sure that these 278 athletes are going to take us into the top five,” said Brazilian Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons.
He said that Brazil hopes to move up from seventh position, where it stood after the London 2012 Paralympic Games and be one of the top five countries in terms of medal winners. Three new Brazilian Paralympic ambassadors were announced at the presentation ceremony: businessman Jose Victor Oliva – the father of Olympic equestrian Joao VÃctor Oliva – and actors Paulo Vilhena and Cleo Pires.
World record holding sprinter Terezinha Guilhermina told EFE news that the Brazilian delegation is “very well prepared,” adding that “the Games … will make it possible for people (in Brazil) to look first at the person and not at the disability.” Among the Games’ 22 sports categories are athleticism, archery, boccia, equestrian sports, goalball, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, seated volleyball, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis, along with canoeing, cycling, 5-man soccer, 7-man soccer, judo, sailing and wheelchair fencing. –IANS
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