Kick-off for Santiago 2023News
The Opening Ceremony in the Estadio Nacional, in Santiago, Chile, brought the support of more than 15.000 people, who cheered and clap loudly for all the 31 participating delegations.
With a magical night, full of light, colours and emotions, the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games officially got underway on 17 November.
The Opening Ceremony in the Estadio Nacional of Chile saw almost 2,000 athletes from the 31 participating countries parade their flags around the running track, while more than 15.000 people in the stands cheered and clapped to the fullest of their hearts. It was the warmest feeling for a cold night in Santiago. But more importantly, it was the perfect celebration to inaugurate the biggest Para sport competition of the Americas.
For the most experienced Para athletes, the moment will be another great one to cherish within their sporting collection; for the rookie ones, the moment will stick in their memory for a long time.
Since the dozens of buses start leaving the Athlete’s Village toward the stadium, the excitement and even nervousness could be felt in the air. Some young athletes were even surprised about being escorted by the local police in a big transit operation.
Also, noteworthy was how, among the sea of Para athletes, the big patches of light blue for the Argentinian jackets, the yellow ones for the Brazilians (the biggest delegation in Santiago with 324) and the red ones for Chileans, just to name a few, were a beautiful contrast to set the tone for the night.
As the Paralympic Movement demands, the Para athletes are a community. While they waited to enter the scene, regardless that they will battle until 26 November for glory, medals and some even for Paris 2024 Paralympic Games qualification, they exchanged pins from each other’s countries, they painted flags in their faces, they got to know each other more than on the playing field.
Then the pivotal time came. Immersed into a show of lights (from the production and from phones in the stands), music, dancers and drones in the sky, delegations got their spotlight. One by one, they entered the stadium in alphabetical order, but with Chile as the last course.
The uproar was numbing. And the gratitude from the local athletes could be perceived from kilometres away. And then, in unison, both sides got together on the popular local chants of “Chi, chi, chi… le, le le”.
“Today is a historical milestone for Chile, there is a lot of excitement to have this version of the Games, in which the best of high performance will be shown”, said the Minister of Sports and President of Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games, Jaime Pizarro, in his speech.
“Support the Para athletes, because everyone who has played sports, regardless of whether it was professional or amateur, knows what it means to perform in a full venue. Let's encourage them to reach their maximum potential”, he added in a direct request to the crowd.
His words were followed by the traditional oaths for the athletes; the lightning of the Cauldron, which included an honouring of legendary Chilean Para athletes, and the official opening declaration by the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric. And for each, more loud cheers.
The ceremony ended with the presentation of local artists for, in total, almost a two-hour ceremony. And now its Games time.
USA beat Chile in the first match of the Parapanam Games
The home team Chile had a great support of 2000 people in its first match. The match was even up to the 16th minute, when the Americans scored their first goal., by #9 Cameron DeLillo. Things got easier for them after scoring two more goals, finishing the first half beating Chile 3-0. The Chileans came back to the second half trying to diminish the difference, and got it, at the 38th minute, after a very well done team play, finishing with a nice kick by #11 Patricio Saavedra, making the supporters much more enthusiastic. But the fourth goal of USA at the 44th minute, scored by #14 Shea Hammond, stopped the home team reaction. Chile scored one last goal at the very end, but it was too late. The USA started the competition with an important win.
Great win for Brazil!
The finalists of the last Parapanamerican Games in Lima 2019 entered the pitch for their first match with high intensity. Before the 10th minute both teams had already scored one goal, with the match being played in a very even way. But Brazil got to score its second goal, by #7 Ubirajara Magalhães, after a nice collective play, finishing the 1st half ahead in the score. Argentina came back to the second half making a hard pressure to get at least the tie. But Brazil, with counter-attacks had the best chances to score. At the very end, the Brazilian goalkeeper made a incredible save that guaranteed the first win of Brazil in the competition.
An incredible win for Venezuela!
Venezuela and Canada finished the first round playing a very balanced match, with both teams playing hard for the ball possession. There were very few chances for both teams in the first half. The second half started in the same way, up to the 36th minute, when #5 captain Samuel Charron scored for Canada, in a long distance successful kick. Right after it, the coach of Venezuela made the substitution that has changed completely the story of the match. The very young #4 Anthony Rea entered to make history for the Venezuelans. A great pressure was made, with many saves from the Canadian goalkeeper Ryan Watson. But the Southamericans did not give up and got to score twice in the very end of the aditional time, both by Anthony Rea, making Venezuela get a remarkable win.