Like millions of kids across Brazil, Washington do Nascimento used to play football when he was little hoping to become the next Neymar or Pele, but everything changed when one of his mother’s best friends introduced him to Para athletics.
At first, do Nascimento thought it could be the perfect way for improving his physical condition and thus his football skills, but eventually he got hooked on Para athletics and started dreaming of one day qualifying for the Paralympic Games.
“I did not go to practice often at first, but only few times per week. But then I competed at the School Paralympics and gradually started liking it more,” said do Nascimento. “In 2013, I decided to fully focus on athletics.”
During this time, do Nascimento, who has a congenital impairment in his right arm, never felt he could not do what he wanted.
“When I was young it was a bit hard for me to accept my disability, but whilst I was growing up I learned to love myself the way I am. The truth is I have always been able to do what I wanted,” he said. This was possible thanks to the support of his loved ones. “My family and my friends have always been by my side. It is a very pleasant feeling to know that your community respects you,” do Nascimento said.
Do Nascimento is one of eight athletes from Latin America who attended training sessions run by the Agitos Foundation. Their remarkable stories are being told in a series of powerful short road to Rio 2016 films.
Life as an athlete:
Over the last 18 months, a total of 155 athletes, coaches and classifiers from 23 countries, including do Nascimento, have benefitted from expert training provided during the Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation Sessions. Organised in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and Brazilian Paralympic Committee, the sessions aimed to improve coaching and Para sport standards as part of the legacy of Latin America’s first Paralympic Games.
“The help from the Agitos Foundation is very important for me. Thanks to them I learned more about Para sports and I really appreciate that,” said do Nascimento.
There are days when he cannot leave his house in Rio de Janeiro’s famous favela ‘Cidade de Deus’ or ‘City of God’ to go training due to trouble in the surrounding streets.
The 18-year-old knows how dangerous that is, but still feels attached to the place where he, his family and friends have lived their entire life.
Clean, broadcast quality versions of do Nascimento’s videos are available free of charge to all media. Requests should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Agitos Foundation must be credited for all use of footage.
The Agitos Foundation road to Rio 2016 videos are featuring a series of athletes, to show the compelling stories that exist in Para sport development as part of #TeamAgitos. Anyone can use #TeamAgitos on social media to show they are part of the team for developing Para sport, whether they are fans, athletes, coaches, part of the Paralympic Movement or a partner organisation.
The #Rio2016 Paralympic Games are being held from 7-18 September 2016. Around 4,350 athletes from more than 160 countries will travel to Rio to compete in 528 medal events in 22 different sports.