In the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games, Venezuela got a chance to raise their flag in Celebration of Lisbeli Marina Vera Andrade winning a gold medal in the 100-meter test category T47, while runner Linda Perez also won a gold medal in the final of 100m T11. Venezuela is another country that finally broke their “bad luck” reputation in only 15 minutes.
Vera Andrade had already obtained a silver medal in the 400-meter T47, giving her the title of the first Venezuelan athlete in history to receive two Olympic medals. Perez, thankfully managed to win a gold medal in her category by running with a time of 12.05 and was the first to begin her T11 competition with a gold medal, making Perez the first Venezuelan athlete to win a gold medal at the Paralympics. These two outstanding athletes have made history for their country and have changed Venezuela’s terrible athletic reputation.
Before becoming a star athlete, Vera Andrade suffered from bullying due to her missing arm.
“Kids laughed at me at school because I was missing a part of my body. They always made me feel different and I did not want to leave my house back then,” explains the athlete.
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) August 31, 2021
Training in para-athletics gave the star athlete the self-confidence to believe in herself and reach for her dreams.
“The first thing I want to do is represent my country well. I would really like to win a gold medal, but I know it is going to be very difficult,” said Vera Andrade before making history for her country and obtaining a gold medal.
Linda Perez has a similar story to Vera Andrade’s. She has a visual impairment. Perez and Vera Andrade have not let disabilities define them. Instead, they have fought against stigmas to achieve their dreams, something they have both demonstrated through their Paralympic success and achievements. Anything is indeed possible.
For his part, Luis Felipe Rodriguez added a silver medal to the Venezuelan delegation by finishing in second place in the 400-meters T20 with a time of 47.71. The athlete’s win earned Venezuela its second silver medal. Linda Perez’s twin sister Alejandra Perez followed with a bronze medal in the 400-meter T12. With Markinson Manzanilla as her guide, Perez achieved a time of 56.95, finishing behind Ukrainian Oksana Boturchuk (silver), and Cuban Oriana Durand (gold).
LINDA de ORO
Nuestra Linda Pérez ORO para Venezuela en la final de los 100m T11 al cerrar con un crono de 12.05
Segunda dorada en la historia de los juegos paralimpicos para Venezuela
— Comité Olímpico Venezolano (@OfficialCOV) August 31, 2021
Finally, three other Olympic diplomas were earned by Venezuela. Belkis Mota reached seventh place in the final of the 100-meter category S12 (visual impairment) due to her 1:07’80 score. Wendy Mejias competing in the F4 shot put, accomplished a record of 6.62 meters, giving her a second Olympic diploma.
“I know that I will be able to obtain a diploma or an Olympic medal. Whoever wants to accomplish it, can,” said Mejias at 19 years old. Due to a problem with her tendons, Mejias has difficulty walking.
Norkelys Gonzalez also obtained an Olympic diploma at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games finishing at a time of 59.74 in the 400-meter T20, ending in sixth place.
Media coverage of Paralympic games today are helping to change negative perceptions of disabilities. People with disabilities are vulnerable to discrimination, prejudice, status loss and labeling. Paralympic sports arose to challenge that image and negative stereotypes towards individuals with disabilities and the meaning of disability. As these athletes show, disability does not define a person or stop them from achieving their goals and aspirations.
Since 1964, the Paralympic Games have been a symbol of support and solidarity towards athletes with disabilities. The event demonstrates what people with disabilities are truly capable of and that challenges are beatable. Unfortunately, the celebration of the achievements highlighting Paralympic athletes does not get enough recognition compared to the attention athletes without disabilities receive. Paralympics and their media coverage have become important tools to change stereotypes and promote inclusivity.
Vanessa Campa is a Senior student at Florida International University majoring in English and minoring in Psychology. Vanessa grew up with a huge Latinx community in Miami, Fl where the majority of the population is Hispanic, and was raised by two amazing immigrant parents. She has a passion for art, photography, humanitarian issues, human rights issues, and telling stories that have an impact on shifting perspectives and educating audiences. She hopes to get into the journalism field to continue her love of storytelling. In her time with the Latina Republic, Vanessa wants to contribute to change the stereotypical narrative of her people and tell inspiring unrecognized stories that need to be brought to light.