Multiple gold medalist, Alphanso “The Ambassador” Cunningham, stepped into the javelin circle this morning as the first Jamaican competitor at the 15th Paralympiad now underway in Rio de Janeiro.
Cunningham was the only F53 athlete competing against stronger F54 athletes in the F54 Javelin event. He knew that it would be a challenge under the existing system established by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which pities athletes who are strong against those obviously less stronger and which determines positions based solely on distance measurement.
But despite the imbalance of the scales, Cunningham proved his mettle and demonstrated why he is the world record holder for the Javelin F53 by going against the tide and in so doing he threw his season’s best 19.49 meters but regrettably he came fifth at the end of the table.
“I’m always up to a challenge. My friends from other countries in my class F53 said to me days before the competition that I am committing suicide going against the bigger boys. Well I’m still alive and kicking”
Quietly confident as he has always been, Cunningham brought a remarkable focus and determination to his which coach Neville Sinclair described as “truly champion like”. JPA boss, Christopher Samuda praised Cunningham for his bravery which he said “comes naturally from a seasoned competitor who believes in himself, is totally dedicated to the sport and wishes at all times to be an inspiration to others”
The event was won by Manolis Stefanoudakis of Greece took the gold with a throw of 29.45, Alberto Zepeda of Mexico copped the silver at 25.92m and Aliaksandr Tryputs took the bronze at 23.56m
Cunningham now sets his sight on the F53 shot put net week when, once again, he will step into the ring in pursuit of glory for his country.