Thursday, September 6, 2012

London Calling: Perseverance

On September 15, 2001 racing driver Alex Zinardi lost both of his legs after he crashed at a European racetrack. Nearly eleven years to the day of that accident, the Italian won a gold medal in the H4 handcycling time trial at the London Paralympics.

Much like Zinardi, other disabled athletes competing at the Paralympics were formally able-bodied individuals. One Latin American example of this is several members of the Colombian men’s wheelchair basketball team:

As noted in this article from BBC Mundo, four players on the squad that makes its debut in the Paralympics were not born with their respective disabilities. All of them were victims of the violence that has poisoned Colombia for decades.

Freddy Rodríguez is a casualty of the infamous armed conflict between the military, guerillas and other criminal groups. The native of Caquetá became paralyzed after a stray bullet from a combat impacted his spine.

Rodriguez’ three formally able-bodied teammates each became disabled as a result of the urban violence that continues to hurt Colombia’s major cities. Germán García and Guillermo Alzate were both mugging victims in the capital city of Bogota. William Pulido, meanwhile, has been a paraplegic since 1993 when he was shot during a street fight.

The Colombian men’s wheelchair basketball team ended in last in their preliminary group with five losses in five games. Yet Pulido and his cohorts are all proud to have served their country by participating in the London Paralympics:
“Sports are the primary focus of my life. Thanks to it I’ve rehabilitated my body, I’ve studied and I continue to forge ahead with my life,” said Pulido to BBC Mundo.
After eight days of competition Brazil has consolidated its lead in the Latin American medals table with twenty-nine medals. Cuba and Mexico are tied for second on the regional medals table with fifteen, Argentina (five medals), Venezuela (two medals) and Colombia (one medal).

Video Source – YouTube via user EquipoParalimpicoCol

Online Sources – Official London 2012 website, BBC Sport, BBC Mundo

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