Olimpiada Rio 2016

Half of Brazilian Para-Athletes Got Their Start in Sports Only After Becoming Handicapped

Half of the Brazilian Para-Athletes only started practicing sports after they became handicapped. According to research from DataSenado, 49% of them didn't practice sports regularly before.

Swimmer Adriano de Lima, 43, is one of those that found in sports the strength to overcome his limitations.

"It started as a part of my rehabilitation. It then became an additional motivation in my life. Sports show that a person with a handicap can succeed", declared the swimmer, who competed in the Atlanta-96 Paralympics.

Born into a poor family in Natal (RN), at 17 years of age Lima fell from a height of 7 meters on a construction site. He suffered a spinal cord injury that left him without movement in his legs.

Before the injury, he had since the age of 13 always worked to help out his family. He also regularly swam at the beach and in rivers in Natal, cycled and played soccer, but only as hobbies.

The swimmer was awarded nine medals in the Paralympic Games in 1996. At Rio-2016, he hasn't climbed up on the podium yet.

"Today I see my handicap as something that happened. I am able to show the world, Brazil, my family, that folks are capable, given the opportunity. This opportunity came through sports."

Fencer Mônica Santos, 32, is another example. She was always energetic and playful as a girl. She liked sports, but didn't practice any rigorously. She became wheelchair bound at 18 when she developed a cavernous hemangioma.

At around 28 years of age she felt the need to become independent from her family. "I wanted to accomplish something that was only mine", she said.

The research was conducted in July by the research institute of the Senate and involved 888 para-Athletes, both active and retired.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

Read the article in the original language