A second gold for Yunidis Castillo and another world record for Omara Durand were highlights for Cuba on Thursday, August 13 at the V Parapan American Games in Toronto.
Castillo took the gold in the 200 m T46 sprint. Durand was in top form, achieving her second world record in the semifinals of the 200m T12 coming in at 23.87 seconds. This topped her previous world record of 24.24 set at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Christchurch 2011.
“We are the first daughters of a system that does not discriminate against the disabled. I myself went to a special school for my visual impairment, I found sport and that allowed me to integrate into society,” 23-year-old Durand told JIT. Durand won her third gold of the competition the next day, August 14 matching her Guadalajara 2011 performance.
“We’re all here to reciprocate the care we receive in Cuban society, so every competition is a commitment. Today I gave my all, especially as a gift to Fidel on his birthday,” Durand said.
“The records stand alone, the win doesn’t matter,” Durand explained. “The important thing is what shape the athlete is in. The wind was strong today in the curve but I’m actually at my best, I knew I was fine. I will continue preparing for the World Cup in Doha and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016,” she said.
Yunidis Castillo has been working to return to peak form since her recent maternity leave. Only four months of preparation for the Games proved enough to put her in the lead.
“The commitment was the gold medal on this significant day for all Cubans [August 13, birthday of leader of the revolution Fidel Castro]. In this or in any competition I go all out and give everything. I could not help but give at least one gold to Fidel and our people on this day,” said Castillo. A resident of Santiago province, Castillo holds five Paralympic gold medals and is a world leader in the 100, 200 and 400 m T46 classifications.
“I was originally a judoka, and remained in sport after being disabled in an accident. Being here and in all other competitions is a sign of how much sport is one of the most inclusive avenues for people with disabilities in Cuba. This is why these moments and medals are my gift – these two are very important as they all are,” said Castillo.
Also on August 13, Cuba won silvers from Leonardo Diaz (javelin F56), and Gerardo Rodriguez (judo 73kg) and bronze from Yaumara Milan (shot put F11-12).