Parapan rower living his dream

Parapan rower living his dream

Cuban-born Canadian para-rower Papito Wilson, who lost a leg in an accident, is ready and pumped for the 2015 Parapan Am Games.

Photo by Gerald V. Paul
By Gerald V. Paul

The 2015 Parapan Am Games are “a dream come true – it is what I live for,” an enthused rower Papito Wilson said at an event marking a year until the competition starts.

The largest Parapan Am Games ever held and the first in Canada did a one-year-to-go countdown event last Thursday at their TO2015 Office with Cuban-born Canadian Wilson, a para-rower, on hand.

“This is a dream come true. It is what I live for. It is my passion. I am ready,” ParapanWilson told The Camera, noting he also hopes to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Wilson praised Vikram Dasgupta, an award-winning filmmaker whose video was screened at the event. Wilson said he hopes to see his most recent film Calcutta Taxi.

Wilson, who lost a leg in an industrial accident at 20 before coming to Canada in 2001, is appreciative of the support he continues to receive. For instance, he said, Sunnybrook Centre for Independent Living assisted him in the pursuit of a dream at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing Paralympics in the Mixed Doubles Sculls “trunk and arms only” category. He fulfilled a childhood dream to become an athlete at the international level.

He said he kept on dreaming as he competed in a variety of sports, including seated volley ball and track and field events of discus and shot put.

But it’s adaptive rowing that now gives him lots of joy.

“Two important achievements for me were when I became a Canadian citizen, and at the World Rowing Championship in Eton, England. My partner was Caitlin Rennison of Ottawa. We won a bronze medal for Canada.”

He attributes his success so far, which he wants to share with young people, to “hard work, have an optimistic outlook and an unwavering determination to achieve your maximum potential.”

Saad Rafi, chief executive officer of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) told the event that “the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games will be an amazing celebration of athletes with phenomenal talents and abilities from across Canada and our neighbours to the south.”

Rafi said the video offered a fresh perspective on familiar sports like basketball and cycling, while highlighting the intense training these athletes undertake every day. “We want everyone who sees this video to be inspired and ask themselves Are You Ready? To come out and show your support in the stands next summer, because obviously these athletes are ready to go for gold in 2015.”

Bal Gosal, federal minister of state (sport), said, “Almost 40 years after hosting Canada’s first Paralympic Games, Ontario looks forward to welcoming world-class para-athletes from around the world at the largest Parapan American Games ever held, just one year from today.

“Increasing awareness and excitement around parasport and showcasing the strides we are making in creating accessible spaces are just some of the important legacies Ontarians will benefit from in hosting these Games.”

The Toronto 2015 Pan American Games will happen July 10-26 and the Parapan American Games Aug. 7-15.