The athletes, who still have until mid-July to qualify, made themselves known at this presentation that took place in Mérida, specifically at the Hotel Ilunion Mérida Palace. The event, which was chaired by the general director of Sport of the Extremadura Board, Dan de Sande Bayal, and by the first vice president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE), Alberto Durán, was also attended by the communication director of the Committee Spanish Paralympic, Luis Leardy.
On behalf of the shortlisted athletes, Loida Zabala (weightlifting) and Juan Bautista (table tennis) took part. Also present at this press conference were Inés Felipe and Juan Antonio Valle, both canoeists.
During the presentation, Alberto Durán highlighted the objective of “making equality visible in the sports world, so that athletes with and without disabilities are equated.” For his part, the General Director of Sports of the Junta de Extremadura assured that “it is time to thank the CPE for its effort to guarantee equality in sport.” “The year 2020 has been very difficult for everyone, but also for the world of sport. That we are here today, after the very hard times we have gone through, presenting the athletes who can reach Tokyo and that there are nine athletes from our land, is a great satisfaction ”, he said.
For his part, the Director of Communication of the Spanish Paralympic Committee stressed that in these Games, in which 22 sports meet, badminton and taekwondo are also premiered. In the same way, he assured that, in total, about 190 people are expected to travel to the Japanese capital, of which 115 will be Paralympic athletes, about 10 athletes will be guides and another 75 members of the Committee to carry out the logistics and the support that an event of this magnitude needs.
During the press conference, the ‘Concentrates in Tokyo’ plan was also discussed, a kind of bubble of circumstances similar to those that athletes will find themselves in at the Games, which will take place in different parts of Spain so that they can adapt to the conditions that The Japanese capital requires for the celebration of this event and thus avoid possible contagions.
Loida Zabala, who competes in weightlifting, highlighted the commitment of athletes in these times of pandemic. “We have trained at home, focused on the Games, without knowing for sure what was going to happen. During these days we have missed the coaches and teammates, so now I appreciate being able to have the opportunity to try to give everything in the qualifications and if possible, in Tokyo ”, he stressed.
For his part, the athlete Juan Bautista highlighted the hopeful calls of the Paralympic Committee, ensuring the scholarships that continued to Tokyo, in order to continue training and dreaming. “We have been aware that the institutions were taking care of us, helping to maintain the illusion. Thank you, because if we are in Tokyo it is for the effort that as athletes we have made, and also for the support and affection ”, he stressed.
The athletes of this preselection of the Spanish Paralympic Team are not guaranteed their presence at the Tokyo Games. From among the more than 250 shortlisted athletes, the final list to attend the Games will come out, which will be made up of about 115 athletes and will be made official in the first half of July.
At the moment, Spain has guaranteed 92 qualification places for the Games, 88 for athletes with disabilities plus four for support athletes, divided into ten modalities: basketball (24), swimming (24), athletics (18), soccer-5 (10), table tennis (6), cycling (2), canoeing (5), rowing (1), taekwondo (1) and shooting (1). In addition, you still have options to expand the quota in some of these modalities, as well as to participate in seven other sports: badminton, wheelchair fencing, weightlifting, judo, wheelchair tennis, archery and triathlon.
The aim is to classify about 125 athletes, 115 of them with disabilities plus about 10 supporters (guides, goalkeepers or pilots). To fill these places, the Spanish federations that encompass the Paralympic modalities have preselected some 250 athletes. In the last Paralympic Summer Games, those of Rio 2016, the Spanish delegation won 31 medals and 101 diplomas.