Rio 2016 Paralympic Games mascot Tom warmed up the crowd at the Paralympic Festival; © Rio 2016/ Mathilde Molla
To the rhythm of inclusive samba school Embaixadores da Alegria, the party to celebrate one year until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games ended up transforming Parque dos Patins, alongside Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, into an impromptu bloco party on Monday (7 September).
The lingering threat of rain did not keep the public away from the Celebra Cultural Arena, where a giant screen showed inspirational films throughout the public holiday. Among the documentaries, one of the most praised was short film about blind Brazilian judoka Antonio Tenorio, who won four gold and one bronze medal at Paralympic Games.
"I was fascinated by the films because their stories had great impact, they were very powerful," said Marina Salomon, who attended the festival with her children. "My kids wanted to do everything. They tried wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. They were very curious and asked lots of questions when we watched the five-a-side football match played by the blind players. Now they are running after those giant balls and don’t want to go home."
Swimmer Daniel Dias, the most decorated Brazilian Paralympian, talked with fans. "To have a dance group full of people with and without a disability is perfect," he said. "All of life should be like this, because I believe we are all equals. Having a disability is not something that defines who I am. It’s a characteristic I have."
The festival also featured some top-level sporting encounters, including a race to define the fastest para-athletes in the world and a football match between Brazil and Argentina’s visually-impaired teams.
REHACARE.com; Source: Rio 2016