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Together with Paratriathlon, Paracanoe is one of the new sports to debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and the fruits of this historical achievement can already be enjoyed by the young sport. For those who like Canoe/kayak, there will be another high level competition taking place at Rio 2016™. The competitions rules and dynamism are basically the same for both competitions.
The good news came in December, 2010. Gathered in a meeting in China, the International Paralympic Committee selected two among the seven Paralympic sports candidates and increased the number of the Rio 2016 Paralympic sport to 22.
“When a sport is included in the Paralympic programme, it is seen with more respect. It also attracts more investors, and more people shows interest in practicing it. I see this achievement in a positive way”, celebrates Fernando Fernandes, Brazilian athlete, twice world champion (2010 e 2011) in the men’s K1 200m A.
For the Paracanoe Paralympic competition, there are three functional classes: LTA, in which athletes use their legs, trunk and arms for paddling; TA, in which athletes use only their trunk and arms; and A, in which athletes can only use the movement of arms and shoulders. Today, the sport usually takes place together with the Canoe-kayak sprint events, where the classes V1 and K1 200m participate in, and where V2 and K2 can also happen.
A poster boy model
International top model and famous in Brazil for taken part in Big Brother television programme, Fernando Fernandes is one of the sport’s poster boy. Just one year after a car accident that left him unable to move limbs below the waist, the world title caused a furore among people in the country. The bi-championship came this year, when the event was already confirmed to take place in 2016.
“I think it is important for people to have a reference in the sport, and that is what I am gradually trying to do. Paracanoe has a long way to go. The basis are already being built. We should begin by having a great number of people practicing the sport, then we can select the talents among them”, he says.
According to Fernando, having Brazil as the place where the sport will debut in the Paralympic Games is a plus for the growth of the sport throughout the world.
“The Brazilian people are well seen and respected by their charisma, joy and perseverance. We always try to transfer that to the sport in a positive way. We have to increase adapted sports’ visibility. This is crucial. People who practice and don’t practice will see the sport as an opportunity”, he concludes.