IPC NEWS BOX….. South American Pair Brings High Expectations to Judo

South American Pair Brings High Expectations to Judo

IPC Press Release: Prior to November’s Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is counting down the top 10 storylines to watch. Today, the No. 7 storyline captures the success of judoka stars Antonio da Silva (Brazil) and Naomi Soazo (Venezuela).
Two of the world’s best Paralympic judoka’s hail from the same continent: South America. However, the two are in entirely different places on their career paths.

Brazil’s Antonio Tenorio da Silva, who turns 40 on 24 October, has won four consecutive Paralympic Games gold medals, topping the podium in every Paralympics he has participated in. Venezuela’s Naomi Soazo, who is half of da Silva’s age at 20, became the first Venezuelan to ever win Paralympic gold in her Games debut at Beijing 2008.

Both are expected to be the athletes to beat at the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, which run from 12-20 November. Da Silva has come a long way since a slingshot accident left him completely blind in his left eye as a child. He has been taking part in Judo competitions for 30 years, and he now trains with the Brazilian Judo National Team four hours a day.

The veteran already reserved himself a spot at the London 2012 Paralympic Games with a third-place finish (-100kg) at the IBSA World Games in Antalya, Turkey, in April, but that does not mean he will slack off in Guadalajara.

“I will be disappointed if I don’t reach the podium,” da Silva said. “All the athletes in my category can get the gold. If during the competition I will be in my best moment, I will get the gold. But my goal is the podium.” “We are all rivals on the mat,” da Silva added. “In my category, we have good athletes coming from the USA, Cuba and Canada. All of them have chances to win, so I wouldn’t point out only one name.” Could da Silva’s age get to him, though?

“The age is an issue, but the confidence and experience acquired through the years is an advantage,” da Silva said. “The willingness to win and to represent Brazil well in the competitions is more important than age.” Meanwhile, Soazo’s youth is overshadowed by her stealth on the mat.

In her Paralympic Games debut, she took just three seconds to defeat Spain’s Marta Arce in the -63kg finals. That was after she defeated China’s Zhou Qian less than a minute into her first match and made quick work of Sweden’s Elvira Kivi later in the semi-finals.

Since Beijing 2008, she has competed in several prestigious international competitions, including the IBSA 2010 World Championships in Antalya, Turkey, where she picked up the silver. Because she suffers from high levels of myopia and astigmatism, it is difficult for Soazo to read or see objects in the distance. Her vision is quite blurry, and much of the time she can only spot shadows.

When she begins her daily training at 5 a.m., though, sight is not her biggest concern. She is more worried about impressing her father, who is also her coach. Da Silva and Soazo are both expected to tear up the mat in Guadalajara, making for a potentially power-packed South American representation at London 2012.

But for how long will the pair own the world’s judoka scene? “The Brazilian Paralympic Committee wants me to go until 2016. I will be 44, almost 45. I hope someone new will come up to replace me and represent Brazil,” da Silva said.

“Unfortunately now, there is no one. There are not any good youngsters in my category coming up.” So does that mean da Silva and Soazo will both be in Rio when the Paralympic Games come to their home continent in 2016?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

IPC Reveals Finalists for Exemplary Paralympic Games Official Award

Five officials have been named finalists for the Exemplary Paralympic Games Official Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, presented by the IPC’s international partner, Allianz.

The award will be presented by the IPC to one male or female Paralympic Games official who demonstrated the utmost leadership at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.

Finalists for the award include:

Markus Walser (Canada): Walser was the race director for the Alpine Skiing competition at Vancouver 2010 and has been closely linked to the incredible success of the event. Working hand-in-hand with the IPC Sport Technical Committee in bringing the sport to a new level of professionalism, he helped develop and enforce rules for the sport, equipment and race co-ordination.

Hans Peter Neeser (Switzerland): Vancouver 2010 marked Neeser’s third Winter Games serving as an IPC Technical Delegate for Biathlon and an assistant for Cross-Country Skiing. This role, in conjunction with his position as Head of Technical Control for the Nordic Skiing Sport Technical Committee, made him the primary point of contact for all technical matters at the Whistler Paralympic Park venue.

Christian Egli (Switzerland): As the IPC Technical Delegate for Cross-Country Skiing and an assistant for Biathlon, Egli helped develop the sit-ski sprint course for Vancouver 2010 and contributed to the newly created IPC Nordic Skiing point system. Vancouver 2010 was his final event as a Games official after many years of supporting the IPC at the Paralympic Games and various World Championship events.

Len Apedaile (Canada): As the sport manager for the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for Nordic Skiing, Apedaile acted in a critical role to maintain successful operations of the event both prior to and during the Games. Anne Lannem (Norway): Lannem was the chief classifier for Nordic Skiing at Vancouver 2010, in addition to being Head of Classification for the Nordic Skiing Sport Technical Committee. She organized classification in the seasons prior up to the Games and served in the classification leadership role during the event.

The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.

Four Athletes Selected to IPC’s Shortlist for Best Paralympic Games Debut:

Four Athletes Selected to IPC’s Shortlist for Best Paralympic Games Debut Four different winter athletes have been announced as finalists in the Best Paralympic Games Debut Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, proudly partnered by the IPC’s International Partner Allianz.

The award will be presented by the IPC to the athlete that stood out the most in his or her first-ever Paralympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.

Finalists for the award include:

Oleksandra Kononova: At the young age of 19, the Ukrainian winter athlete put on a stellar performance at Vancouver 2010, winning gold in the 12.5km Standing Biathlon and golds in the 5km and Sprint Classic Cross-Country Skiing events. She also picked up a silver in the 3×2.5km Cross-Country Skiing race. Kononova, whose right hand was infected with osteomyelitis as an infant, now has a right hand that is shorter than her left one.

Maria Iovleva: After competing in winter sports since the age of 9, Iovleva won gold in the 10km Biathlon and silver in the 2.4km Pursuit, in addition to being a member of the gold-medal winning women’s Cross-Country Relay team. She will now look to build off that performance in her home Games at Sochi 2014.

Nikko Landeros: In 2007, the American lost his legs after he was struck by another car while changing a flat tire. In 2010, in Vancouver, he made a name for himself as a punishing defenseman on the USA’s gold-medal winning Ice Sledge Hockey team. Landeros is already one of the sport’s fiercest competitors after playing the sport for just two years, and he should be one of the game’s best for years to come.

Zebastian Modin: At just 15 years old, the Swedish visually impaired athlete was the youngest competitor from any nation to compete at Vancouver 2010. He won bronze in the Cross-Country Skiing Sprint Classic Style, though he claims he is motivated by his enjoyment of the sport rather than a drive to win medals a major event.

The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.

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