Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Juegos Parapanamericanos Mexico 2011

Performance at the Village!! Me encanta ese sombrero :)
After many months of preparation and hard work the big day arrived, time to fly out to Mexico and compete at the Para Pan-American Games in Guadalajara. It was not only exiting for me to be swimming at such competition but also great to visit Mexico again after 11 years. As I arrived at the airport, the music, the smell and the color started to bring some memories back. I was in Guadalajara a city of Mexico that I had not visited before but it defiantly had the essence of that rich culture that is found anywhere you go in the country. I was very happy while I was riding the noisy bus without A/C from the airport to the village, it was almost unbelievable for me to be there. Everything was new to me but still with the very familiar latin flavor. After arriving at the village and having a quick lunch it was time to raise the American flag and acknowledge the presence of the Team USA. Mexico prepared a welcoming event, full of colorful dresses and typical dances from Jalisco. The rooms were ready for us to occupy and the people were very hospitable. Right after that same day was our first time training and seeing the pool. It was great and the staff was welcoming and happy to have all of us there. The opening ceremony of the games was not until the third day and defiantly one of the best moments of this trip. As we were organizing the teams for the ceremony we were gathered in a private area for athletes only where they had a party or as they called it “La Fiesta de America”. I think that this was my favorite moment when I saw all the people regardless of country, language or culture dancing to the same rhythms all together. As we entered the stadium as a team I was very proud to be part of Team USA the country that is my home and has open so many great opportunities for me including this one as one of the bests. All week the village was a celebration for me. I was speaking Spanish and receiving the best complements on my ability to speak it so well while being from the USA. Towards the end they all found out where the Spanish with no accent came from. I guess is hard to hide a Cuban and I am always happy to show it off.

Performance at the Opening Ceremonies!!

At the pool life was very active; the stands were full with a very energetic crowd.At the level of the pool it was the space to make friends with people from other teams, we were located between the Argentinean and the Mexican teams, with whom we exchange pins and some funny moments. When looking to the stands from the pool deck we could see the Mexican flags covering the space but on the day of my competition this pattern was interrupted by my family that brought and American flag to support our team, which would stand out among the many Mexicans. It was overwhelming to presence this moment.   I was about to start racing and the stadium was euphoric and cheering for every single athlete. At the moment of the race it all came down to sticking to my strategy and staying as focused as possible, although after the previous description this defiantly became a challenge. My time on the 100BR was good I broke the Para-Pan-American record but Mexico decided not to Medal my class, the reasons are unknown by me. I am happy with my swim and I look forward to the upcoming competitions. The next one will be December 8th , 2011, yes… I have to compete again!! This time in La Mirada, California where I hope to have part of my family coming to watch I look forward to it!!! 
Mariachis took over the pool!!!

1 comment:

  1. Ili I am very proud of you, you are an inspiration to me and to many. I always remember fondly all the great times we had when we were lil and I could have never guessed that you would be competing in the Pan-american Games!
    What an amazing adventure, I can't wait to see you continue on this journey and maybe even make it to the Olympics :-)

    Cuidate I love you
    -Jose Carlos