Blind football and goalball players, alongside judoka, are in Lima, Peru, ready for the start of the 2019 Parapan American Games from 23 August.
The sixth edition of the Parapans heads to Peru for the first time and runs until 1 September.
International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football, IBSA Goalball and IBSA Judo will all be contested.
The stakes are high in Lima as the gold medallist from both the men’s and women’s competition will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Teams from nine countries – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the USA, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela, hosts Peru and Mexico – will go for glory.
Brazil is a strong contender in both the men’s and women’s competitions. The Brazilian men are the reigning world champions whilst the woman captured bronze at the last Worlds. Both teams are the defending Parapan title-holders from the last edition in Toronto, Canada, in 2015.
Leomon Moreno will be a key face to watch in the men’s as one of his team’s leading goalscorers. Look out too for Ana Carolina Duarte’s signature throw – backwards between her legs – that has breached many defensive lines in the past.
But Brazil will go into the tournament relaxed having already secured the place at Tokyo 2020 with their World Championships performances.
If Brazil do manage to retain their title in either gender, the qualification spot will go to the next team not already qualified.
The US men settled for silver last time and will be hoping for a repeat performance or better for a spot at Tokyo 2020. The US women meanwhile have nothing to lose and will aim to improve on their own second place from 2015 having qualified for the next Paralympics at their home IBSA Goalball International Qualifier in Fort Wayne in July.
The Canadian men and women are also in the hunt for a top two finish to punch their tickets to Tokyo. Both have come close, including an agonising fourth place finish for the women at 2018’s World Championships.
Goalball competitions will be contested at the Villa Deportiva Regional Del Callao between 25-31 August.
A star-studded line-up for judo includes world and Paralympic champions.
Mexico’s Paralympic and defending title-holder Lenia Ruvalcaba is likely to meet long-standing rival, and world champion, Alana Martins of Brazil in the women’s up to 70kg.
Since winning silver at the last Parapans in 2015, Canada’s Priscilla Gagne has become one of the top judoka in the women’s up to 52kg – and the world.
The Canadian is the reigning IBSA Judo Americas champion and also claimed bronze at the 2018 World Championships.
In the men’s, Brazilian legend Antonio Tenorio will compete in the men’s up to 100kg. The four-time Paralympic champion from between Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008 did not compete in the 2015 Parapans but has been firmly in action in 2019. He collected bronze at the International Qualifier in Fort Wayne.
Mexico’s Paralympic champion Edoardo Avila Sanchez returned from injury in style in Fort Wayne, beating South Korea’s world title holder Jung Min Lee for gold in the men’s up to 81kg. He is in Lima hoping to continue his incredible comeback.
Judo will run from 24-25 August at the Villa Deportiva Nacional – Videna.
Brazil have won gold at all three editions of the Parapans since blind football was introduced to the programme: in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in 2007; in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011; and Toronto 2015. Argentina have secured silver three times, missing out on gold to Brazil in each final by a single goal.
Brazil also recently reclaimed their Americas title with a title win at home, once again against Argentina, in Sao Paulo in June. They are also the reigning world champions having picked up their fifth trophy in 2018.
Their star strikers Raimundo Alves Mendes and Ricardinho Alves finished as the top goalscorers at Toronto 2015 and the Worlds, respectively.
Brazil and Argentina will be joined by hosts Peru, Colombia, Americas bronze medallists Mexico and Costa Rica in a round-robin format. The top two teams from each group will advance to the gold medal match on 30 August at the Villa Maria del Triunfo Sports Centre.
The Lima 2019 Parapan American Games take place with just one year to go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Results and updates can be found at the Lima 2019 website
and on the respective sports’ social media.