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Para-athletes making history at this year’s Games


News - Para-athletes making history at this year’s Games

The European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016 is not just the first competition of its kind to include para-athletes, but also the first international competition to recognize paralympic categories for individual sports. Orijana Pernjak Grbac and Barbara Tunjko from the EUG Sports Committee said that the organizers found it imperative to include para-athletes in the Games, thereby sending the message that sports are open to everyone.

‘Despite our individual needs, we are all equal. That’s why we had to do this. It wasn’t hard to put in a little extra effort and make some adjustments, despite the challenges of this being the first event of its kind,’ said Orijana and Barbara. ‘We hope the future Games will include even more sports and options for para-athletes,’ the two added.

Certain adjustments have been made to the Trsat Campus to accommodate para-athletes. First athletes arrived Wednesday, July 20, and they were placed in specially prepared rooms. The University of Cordoba’s swimmer Rocio and delegate Carmen said they were happy with the accommodation and that they had no problem moving around the Campus and the pavilions.

‘Since there were ramps and elevators everywhere, we had no problem navigating the place. One minor detail that I noticed was that the beds in the rooms were too low, but this problem was easily solved. After all, we were the first ones to stay in those rooms,’ the two said, adding that the view of the sea was also wonderful. All in all, they are enjoying their stay in Rijeka. ‘We have to show everyone we mean business and that we’re no different than the other athletes. We’re making history!’ said Carmen.

Tino, a volunteer at the Info Point, is a student at the University of Humanities and Social Sciences and also a person with disability. He is used to moving around the Campus and he can do almost everything by himself. ‘The elevator should be adjusted so that the door stays open a bit longer. Some doorknobs are also too high, but those are just minor details. I have to say I’m glad to be a part of this event, and everyone is just amazing!’ Tino himself used to be a swimmer, which is why he is so glad that para-athletes are also participating in the Games. He cannot wait for the competition at the Kantrida Swimming Pools.

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