Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Parapan Games starts with glittering ceremony

Published:Saturday | August 24, 2019 | 12:22 AM
Team Jamaica and Games volunteers pose prior to joining the parade for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, yesterday.
Team Jamaica and Games volunteers pose prior to joining the parade for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, yesterday.

The National Stadium of Peru, also known as José Díaz Estadio Nacional de Lima, was ablaze with colour, music, and fireworks as the region’s para athletes paraded in their national colours to a packed stadium and an estimated viewing audience of over 30 million last night.

The opening ceremony was creatively conceptualised by Hansel Cereza, the driving force behind the iconic opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and ­captured the rich and ancient history of Peru.

Significantly, it also conveyed the admirable passion and emotion of Paralympism and the strength and conviction of mostly young men and women who dare to go beyond the incredible in athletic performance. Five hundred artists and volunteers participated in the spectacle, 55 of whom have disabilities.

Team Jamaica was resplendent in gold and black and was led by flag bearer and team captain Chadwick Campbell, a sprinter who debuted in the semi-finals in the T13 100m and 200m at the 2017 London World Para Athletics Championships and who is determined to do better.

“It is such an honour and privilege to be the flag bearer for my country and to captain my team,” he said. “I accepted with pride and will never forget the opportunity given to me and will lead by example.”

Jamaica’s Navardo Griffith and Shane Hudson will bow into action today in the men’s F57 shot put and T45-47 400m, respectively, and Jamaica Paralympic Association president Christopher Samuda, who is in Lima with the team, in commenting, was cautiously optimistic.

“The gentlemen are focused and have sized the competition and know what they have to do to be on the podium,” he said. “Shane has been there as a silver medallist on two occasions in these games, and he is determined this time to step on the highest of the three platforms. Navardo, this is his maiden voyage on to the regional and international stage, but he’ll weather any storm.”

The team in Lima has been going through some motivational exercises and devotions as the aspiring athletes look with faith towards grasping and owning a piece of Parapan-American history.