The 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have come and gone and, although we are sad that they are over, the staff at NARIC was very excited to watch the Games. This was an historic year for the Paralympic Games as this was the first edition of the Games ever played in South America with over 4,000 athletes from more than 170 countries. In celebration of the 2016 Paralympic Games and Hispanic Heritage Month, we would like to introduce you to two Hispanic/Latino Paralympians from this year’s games.
Alejandro Albor, Cycling
Alejandro Albor joined the USA Cycling Elite Team in April 2003 and has raced in numerous international competitions in the last 13 years. With many years of training and dedication, Alejandro won silver and bronze medals during the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. Alejandro was born in Tzintzimeo, a town in the state of Michoacán in Mexico. During his childhood he grew up living with various neighbors while his father worked as a laborer and his mother cleaned houses for wealthy families in the US. When Alejandro turned 15, he and the rest of his family relocated to the US where his family wanted him to continue his work in the fields. Instead, Alejandro enrolled himself in high school and played in the soccer team. He became disillusioned by his struggles in the US and, taking his father’s car, he drove towards Mexico. During his drive, he made a split decision that would change his life: he decided to take his own life by slamming the car into a moving train. Due to the accident, Alejandro lost both his legs above the knee. After his rehab, Alejandro returned to school and graduated with his high school class. Even after his accident, Alejandro continued to see himself as an athlete and pursued all types of athletics, including teaching himself how to play wheelchair basketball, spending time kayaking, and designing and building his own hand-cycle. Meanwhile he earned his college degree and went to work for the Army Corps of Engineers. While he is not cycling, Alejandro runs his own company, is happily married, and is the father of three children. To learn more about Alejandro, visit the Team USA website.
Marco de la Rosa, Pistol Shooting
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Marco de la Rosa was stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1993. Marco was shot in the back – injuring his spinal cord at the T4-T5 levels and leaving him a paraplegic. A 44-year-old retired Marine Corporal, Marco has been a quick study in the sport of shooting after he first tried it in 2014 during a Paralyzed Veterans of America event. His first competition was at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games in 2015, where he beat the field by more than 100 points! This year, Marco achieved his personal goal of competing in Rio as a 2016 US Paralympic Team member. Marco has three brothers and one sister and he enjoys hunting, fishing, shooting, traveling, archery and going to the movies.
Thanks to the hard work of Team USA’s Paralympic athletes, the US won a total of 115 medals during the Games and the US women winning 70 medals! Team USA’s efforts included many firsts, you can learn about them in this article by Beth Bourgeois. We congratulate all the athletes who participated in this year’s Games and we look forward to cheering them on at the next Paralympic Games.