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Rio de Janeiro, a Candidate City to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is set to welcome some of the major stars of Paralympic sport for an international athletics and swimming meeting, which begins on Saturday. One hundred and twenty athletes who competed in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games are competing.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, Rio 2016 President, believes the competition is a further indication of the growing profile of Paralympic sport in Brazil.
“Brazil obtained the country's best ever results in Beijing, which shows the development of Paralympic sport in the country. Rio 2016 positions the Paralympic and Olympic Games at the same level, with the same standards and with full integration between them. It will be an inspiring event, like our athletes,” Mr. Nuzman said.
The Brazilian delegation features eight of the ten sportspeople who won medals in athletics at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, including Terezinha Guilhermina (Gold in the 200m, Silver in the 100m and Bronze in the 400m) and Lucas Prado (Gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m).
The Brazilian team is led by Daniel Dias, who won the Laureus 2009 Paralympic Athlete of the Year Award. At the 2008 Beijing Games, Daniel won an amazing nine medals: Gold in the 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m medley; Silver in the 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and 4x50m medley relay; and Bronze in the 4x50m freestyle relay.
The event will take place over two weekends. On 8 and 9 August, Célio de Barros Stadium will host athletics competitions involving fifty athletes from ten countries.
The swimming events will take place on the second weekend – 15 and 16 August – at Júlio Delamare Aquatic Park. Seventy athletes from eleven countries will take part.
Prominent athletes from other nations include Cuban Yunidis Castillo (Gold in the 100m and 200m). American Erin Popovich, who won four Gold and two silver medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, will also compete in the Rio event. The United States’ team will be led by their Brazilian coach Joaquim Cruz, who won Gold in the 800m at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.