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Haiti - Sports : Opening tomorrow of XIV Paralympic Summer Games 2012
28/08/2012 10:43:13

Haiti - Sports : Opening tomorrow of XIV Paralympic Summer Games 2012
The XIV Paralympic Summer Games, will be held in London from August 28 to September 9, 2012. 4.200 athletes will represent 165 countries, including Haiti. Josué Cajuste [28] and Nephtalie Jean Louis [33] are the two Haitian athletes that will represent the colors of our bicolor in the shotput and javelin.

In 2011, Josué, 28, [disabled from birth], during a trip to the United States as a member of a team of amputee football has discovered the javelin and shot put "[...] I have had this dream for many years. It is one of the proudest moments in my life to be able to show everyone that I can succeed; knowing that for the first time people in Haiti will be able to watch me competing on television," declared Josué, adding "we have four athletic tracks in Haiti. Four are full of people who lost their homes in 2010 [...] We train amongst the rubble; wherever we can [...] We find locations to train and with the will of everyone in Haiti we shall soon start to develop our teams and training programs."

Nephtalie, 33, [who contractedpolio in his childhood] joined the Paralympic Movement 6 years ago. She traveled to Beijing in 2008, representing Haiti in weightlifting, but unfortunately did not be able to participate in her category, due to overweight. This year Nephtalie will participate in competitions javelin and shot put. "In Haiti those with handicaps are reluctantly accepted. but up until now have had little chance of truly making a name for themselves [...] being disabled means that we are not considered to be worthwhile. For my fellow people to see me on this huge stage will be a major step forward," declared Nephtalie, adding "I feel that I can show many other people in my country how, by working hard, you can achieve your dreams [...]"

Malcolm Wallace, the English coach of Josue and Nepthalie who has worked with many big stars of the British team, declared "In Haiti disability is something you push in the background. But a huge change has come over the country because, all of a sudden, the next door neighbour who was running around playing sport is suddenly disabled because he or she got caught in the earthquake," explaining that because of Haiti's lack of competitive opportunities the country relies on wildcard selection to qualify for tournaments. But he believes at London 2012 Josue and Nepthalie will earn the right, through hugely improved performances, to be considered as legitimate contenders "We are not just here for the experience. The experience itself will be fantastic. They'll be able to go back to Haiti and talk about it. But we are here to win and that is ingrained in them."

A five year development programme to bring sporting opportunities to both able bodied and disabled members of Haiti is underway and Wallace is optimistic that the country's small 2012 team will be eclipsed by a larger and more experienced squad in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. "For the next Paralympics, and in the future, we will qualify. And we'll be taking a team of maybe ten women and ten men. Hopefully in four years time we'll be in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince with gold medals from Rio."

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