Yunidis Castillo secured Cuba’s first medal (silver) of the Río Paralympics. Photo: Armando Hernández

RÍO DE JANEIRO.—Yunidis Castillo was just centimetres short of the gold in the long jump with a leap of 5.59 meters, but lost out following New Zealand’s Anna Grimaldi’s amazing jump of 5.62m on the last attempt to complete a thrilling final on the first day of athletics at the 15th Paralympic Games.

“We athletes are used to this, although I made a good second jump, I knew I was a little threatened, mainly due to the quality of the Australian Carlie Beattie (third place with 5.57m). She was the favourite,” Yunidis, from Santiago de Cuba, stated following the event, one of the last of the day at the João Havelange Olympic Stadium.

Omara Durand saw an excellent start to the competition in Río. Photo: Armando Hernández

“I am happy with the result, we all love gold and I had trained very little for the long jump, just in the previous three months. In addition, I surpassed the 5.46m second place at the Doha World Championships,” the five-time Paralympic champion and world record holder for the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprints.

Castillo dedicated her victory to “my people, who always support me, my family and especially my young son, and also my President Raúl,” following the F47 long jump (upper limb impairment) final, securing the silver medal, the first for the Cuban delegation in Río.

Noting that she is in good form, Castillo stated that she will go for gold again on September 11, 13 and 16, looking to repeat her three 100, 200 and 400 meter wins in London 2012.

Meanwhile, sprinter Omara Durand secured a Paralympic record in the 100m T12 (profound visual impairment) classification with a time of 11.58 seconds, just 10 hundredths of a second off her world record in Doha.

This Friday she will seek to advance to the final, on a day in which Cuba could also see medals from Gerdan Fonseca (javelin), the judokas Dalidaivis Rodríguez (63kg) and Gerardo Rodríguez (73kg) and swimmer Juan Castillo (400m freestyle).

Weightlifter Leidys Rodríguez finished sixth in the 41kg division this Thursday, lifting 80kg in the powerlifting bench press, three kilograms more than her gold medal effort at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games.