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September 16, 2015
Colombian Paralympic Committee unveils Rio2016 countdown

From Left to Right Mrs Maria Elisa Berenguer, Brazilian Ambassador. Mr Andrés Botero Director of the Ministry of Sports of Colombia. Mr Jairo César Ayala, Colombian Paralympic Committee President (Photo: Albeiro Barreiro)
by Maria Constanza Mora Pedraza, ACORD member
BOGOTA, September 16, 2016 - The Colombian Paralympic Committee celebrated in Bogotá 365 days left to Rio 2016, a special ceremony with the presence of Brazilian Ambassador Mrs Maria Elisa Berenguer, the Colombian Paralympic Committee President Mr Jairo César Ayala and Mr Andrés Botero, Director of the Ministry of Sports of Colombia

Colombia’s debut at the Paralympics Games were in Toronto 1976 and where the nation participated in Athletics, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Basketball, and since then the country has been only absent in Los Angeles 1984.

Colombia’s competition history has not been absolutely great, as in 39 years the country has only won 5 medals, 1 gold in Swimming with Pedro Mejía, 2 silvers in Athletics and Swimming with Elkin Serna and Moises Fuentes respectively and 2 bronzes; Pedro Mejía and Moises Fuentes both in Swimming.

Nevertheless and regardless of past results, Colombian athletes have their hopes up and after a number of fantastic results at the Para-Pan Games in Toronto 2015, the government, federations, media and athletes are anxiously awaiting for Rio2016 to kick off. This is the case of Jainer Cantillo a weightlifting athlete who will be at the Paralympics games for the third time, and who could not hide his happiness, thanking all those who have helped him all through his career, especially the Bogotá Sports Institute IDRD, the Ministry of Sports and the Colombian Paralympic Committee.

“I started my sports career in athletics however by 2003 in a national tournament I competed in both sports; in athletics I got a silver medal and in weightlifting I got the gold plus I made a national record,” Cantillo said. He then made one of the most important decisions of his life - athletics was put to the side as the young Colombian realized he was born for weightlifting. Jainer is a 30 years old athlete but his life has not been only sports, despite his disability (poliomyelitis) he decided to study as well, obtaining a diploma in International Commerce and in Computers. As he said: “Disability is not in the body, disability is in the mind an in the heart, but if you overcome it you can achieve whatever you want”. Jainer is an athlete who spreads good energy wherever he is, that is why many of his colleagues love him and have the highest opinion of him as a person and athlete, some of them call him a “monster” or “machine” and when he mentions that, he smiles as he knows it is always said with the utmost respect.

The first time Jainer wore the Colombian national shirt was at the PanAm Games in Rio, coincidentally in the same city where the Paralympics Games 2015 will be held. He he got the gold medal in Rio then and registered a new personal record. This was in 2007 and Cantillo thinks Rio can bring him good luck yet again, making his expectations for next summer very high.

Before putting all his thoughts into the Paralympics Games, Janier will represent the Capital City, Bogotá at the National Games that will be held this November, and then his main goal will be to beat the 4th position he got at the Paralympics Games London 2012.

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