The athletes, who are shortlisted for the event and who still have until mid-July to qualify, made themselves known in this presentation that took place at the headquarters of the Presidency of the Government of the Canary Islands, in Tenerife.
The event, which was chaired by the president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres Pérez, and the president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE), Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro, was attended by the general director of Sports of the Canary Islands, Antonio López Santana; the Territorial Delegate of the ONCE in the Canary Islands, José Antonio López Marmol; the president of the ONCE Territorial Council in the Canary Islands, Miguel Ángel Deniz Méndez; the zone director of the ONCE in Tenerife, Andrés Guillén Guillén; and the Director of Communication of the Spanish Paralympic Committee, Luis Leardy.
On behalf of the shortlisted athletes, the Paralympic swimmer Michelle Alonso and the wheelchair basketball player Amadou Diallo participated, although the Canarian swimmers Inés Rodríguez and Judit Rolo were also present.
During the presentation, the President of the Canary Islands indicated that “Paralympic sport is the absolute improvement” of the person and stated that these athletes, who have had to overcome other “adversities, become an example for everyone else.” Torres also thanked the entire Spanish Paralympic team for their work and was convinced that the Spanish representatives at the next Tokyo event will have “all the Canaries by their side”.
In addition, the president of the CPE referred to the pandemic and referred to sport as “a help and a motivation” for people with disabilities. He also assured that in Spain there are more than four million people with disabilities, “but there will be more” because “this pandemic will have collateral damage that will affect many people, and there will be sport.”
For his part, the Communication Director of the Spanish Paralympic Committee stressed that “it is the second most important sporting event after the Olympic Games.” “There are 12 days of competition in which 22 sports come together, where we also premiere badminton and taekwondo, and they are a great opportunity to peek into the world showcase. We want to achieve parity between men and women and we also have the objective of making equality visible in the sporting world between athletes with and without disabilities ”, he stressed.
Likewise, they spoke of the “Concentrates in Tokyo” plan, a kind of bubble of circumstances similar to those that athletes will find in Tokyo, which will take place in different parts of Spain so that they can adapt to the conditions that the Japanese capital requires to the celebration of this event and thus avoid possible infections. During the JJPP some 540 medal events will be held in 21 different competition venues.
Basketball player Amadou Diallo spoke about the challenges of the basketball team. “Our objective is clear, to reach the final and play it. We have worked very hard and we all have the same challenge: to enjoy and try to win, “he said.
Michelle Alonso, for her part, assured that the year of the pandemic has been very hard. “I can’t live without swimming, and it has been very stressful not knowing what was going to happen. However, we have received a lot of support and I felt a lot of liberation to be able to have contact with the water and continue training ”. The swimmer, who achieved the minimum A, confessed that she really wants to get to Tokyo: “I’m going to have a good time and, of course, fight for a medal. I wish the same to all athletes. “
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 comprise the Paralympic modalities have preselected some 250 athletes. In the last Summer Paralympic Games, those of Rio 2016, the Spanish delegation won 31 medals and 101 diplomas.