According to a survey carried out by the National Disability Service (Senadis) in 2015, more than 2 million 800 thousand people in Chile have a degree of disability, which represents 16.7% of the population aged two years or more. Little by little, they have been included in different areas of society, sports among them.
The history of Chile at the Paralympic Games - a competition that began in 1960 - dates back to Barcelona 1992, when only one athlete represented the country: Para swimmer Gabriel Vallejos. Progressively this number has increased and at London 2012, Para athlete Cristián Valenzuela won gold medals and repeated his success at Tokyo 2020, where swimmer Alberto Abarza and shot put thrower Francisca Mardones were awarded with golds too.
The greater number of fans of Para sports and the celebration of the Parapan American Games in Santiago, between November 17 and 26 of next year, motivated the Chilean State to invest in new infrastructure and one of these will be the Centro Deportivo Paralímpico (Paralympic Sports Center), within the Parque Estadio Nacional, which will host different sports after the Games.
“Currently we share many spaces with conventional sports, and when there is a competition, we have to stop for a few weeks. This center comes to solve that problem. In addition, we have participated from the beginning in its design, being very relevant not only for the national teams, but also for clubs and all Paralympic sport”, explained Alex Inostroza, sports director of the Chilean Paralympic Committee (Copachi).
The technical area of the committee, medical services and the sports science department will be located in this new space. "The objective is to provide a high-standard preparation, everything within the reach of the Para athlete and avoiding the continuous transfer from one place to another," he added.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEW PARALYMPIC HOUSE
The Centro Deportivo Paralímpico will be a high-performance multi-sports venue that considers an investment of more than 9,500 million Chilean pesos (about 10,700,000 dollars), a construction of 6,190 square meters, distributed in a two-story building with a multi-court adaptable for wheelchair basketball and rugby, Para badminton, spaces for Para powerlifting, Para table tennis and goalball, as well as a weights room and administrative offices.
Next to this structure there will be cerebral palsy (CP) soccer fields for 7 players per side -already existing-, and another one for soccer for the blind, a discipline with five players per team.
UNIVERSAL ACCESSIBILITY: EQUITY IN EVERY FIELD
The Head of Accessibility of the Venue Development Department of the Santiago 2023 Corporation, Alejandra Aviles, gave details of what will become the epicenter of Chilean Paralympics. "It will have an accessibility standard higher than the established norm with wider corridors, larger doors, a high level of automation, tactile information for people with visual disabilities and a fluid connection between the different units," she claimed.
Although the Center is dedicated exclusively to athletes with impairments, the new venues and those that are being remodeled also incorporate the concepts of accessibility, design and inclusion. "Universal accessibility is being able to guarantee that equal conditions are achieved in all areas, that is, if there is a main access door, that everyone enters through it and not through a different entrance, with simultaneous transfer in both directions, considering special equipment and using the sports spaces”, he commented.
The Centro Deportivo Paralímpico will host goalball and soccer for the blind at the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games. It will also be the venue for fencing in the conventional event, with a capacity of approximately 800 spectators.
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