The once bustling paralympic village of athletic newcomers, aspirants, contenders, defending champions, volunteers, workers, host and delegation officials has fallen somewhat asleep as only a few mingle with smiles, handshakes and embraces reminiscing on life lived for the last three weeks in Guadalajara which culminated in an emotional closing ceremony last night.
But for those who looked on with bleary and nostalgic eyes as the parapan american flame was extinguished, this was not the end for the spirit of the games lives on vibrantly and will be renewed in Toronto, Canada in 2015.
Guadalajara was all about clinical rivalry and competitive glory only surpassed by the humanity of old and new friendships as all celebrated from the heart the fiesta of the Americas.
Jamaica gave a good party – a reggae splash and fest all in one – in its one gold and four silvers
from the modest team of six athletes who all gave of themselves in the name of country.
We remember Alphanso’s emphatic opening of our campaign with an authoritative throw to conquer the field in the men’s discus F52-54 competition and his silver that should have been gold in the men’s javelin F52-54
Equally inspiring was Tanto’s achieving his personal record in the men’s discuss F54-56 where the silver was his comfortably until golden London and Sylvia’s silver in the women’s F57-58 discuss where she gained the pan american record in her class and re-lived her paralympic memories.
The focus and determination of Kevon in the men’s shot put and javelin F54-56 were admirable and applauded when he placed fourth in each event, narrowly missing the bronze on both occasions.
The painful injury of David in the T46 men’s 800m final which ended his journey here turned to ineffable joy in the historic and patriotic run of Shane in the men’s T46 400m on Friday afternoon when the gold was his but was taken on the line by a Venezuelan chest.
Shane’s disappointment (but not defeat) was also coach Neville’s
who waited patiently for the hour and whose unrestrained happiness in our believed victory suddenly was shattered by the reality of a photo finish which we all now wish to forget.
Memorable are the mornings, afternoons and nights when we would as a team break bread together and the team meetings in the office of Chef de Mission, Christopher, where post- mortems were done only to bury disappointments in lessons learned for a greater understanding of tomorrow and the life that it would inevitably bring and also for recognition of jobs well done.
Training was routine but instructive under the watchful and committed eyes of coaches Neville and Jeff while Ajay photographed every emotion of our lives lived in Guadalajara while stretching the muscles and perseverance of our athletes.
Meetings there were, official and otherwise, were but part of the expected landscape
but they never intruded on quiet and prayerful moments when strength was renewed and purpose given conviction.
Brazil may have topped the table with a haul of but the five medals we gained embody the apogee of the human spirit and soul
Guadalajara will now take a well earned sleep; and as team Jamaica leaves the village into the wider world and on wings to the homeland, the mission was accomplished and the vision is now London 2012 where aspirations reside, ambitions will be realized and the pride of country re-lived.
The team arrives today
(Monday November 21)American Airlines Flight AA 1049 from Miami arriving at 9:25p.m.