The gleam of gold coloured the early evening hours of Wednesday, August 12, Cuba’s fifth day at the V Parapan American Games. Swimmer Lorenzo Perez won gold and set a world record, while runner Ernesto Blanco also won gold and set a record for the Americas.
Perez, with a time of 1:04.60 minutes in the 100 m freestyle S6, overtook the record of 1:05.45 set by Sweden’s Anders Olsson in 2009 in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Perez led the field at the 50 metre mark touching the wall in 30.50, while Colombia’s Nelson Crispin followed with 31.50. He completed the second lap in in 34.10 for the win. Crispin, the Glasgow 2015 world champion held the previous Americas record of 1:06.60.
This success also had the taste of revenge, as Crispin had defeated Perez in the 50 m freestyle S6 two days earlier. That loss came despite Perez achieving a personal best, faster than the performance that won him Paralympic silver at London 2012.
Perez finishes his competition with two gold medals (the other in the 400 m freestyle S6 where he also set an Americas record) and one silver. It was his second Parapan Am Games after a stunning debut in Guadalajara 2011 with golds in all three distances.
In a telephone conversation with JIT Perez dedicated his achievement to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro on the eve of his birthday, and to his son Jonathan, age 10 and champion of the recent National School Games in Cuba.
Perez explained that he revels in these competitions which demand all his effort to prove himself. He also thanked God, his trainer Ernesto Garrido and physiotherapist Fernando Quintana.
When asked about his absence from the 2015 world championships in Edinburgh, Perez said he had only one regret. “It would have been a good opportunity to show all the preparation done, for which I also want to thank the people of Marcelo Salado [National School of Swimming],” he said.
In other news Cuban runner Ernesto Blanco won the 400 m T47 event on August 12 with a time of 49.07 seconds, a Parapan Am Games record.
Blanco’s compatriot Ethiam Calderon won bronze in the same race, reaching the finish line in 50.21, behind Jamaica’s Shane Hudson (49.97) who took silver.
More medals are expected for Cuba in track and field.