Photo: Prensa Latina

PANAMA CITY.- With four gold, two bronze and one silver medal, the six-member Cuban delegation bid farewell to the Third Special Olympics Latin America Regional Games.

Three of Cuba’s four gold medals were won in athletics events, including the men’s and women’s 200m sprint (Tomás Collazo and Yahimet Licea) and men’s 4x100m relay; while Yariel García also won bronze in the men’s 200m sprint.

The other gold went to Susana Ibañéz in the table tennis competition, while Lizandra Utría secured silver and bronze in the 50 meters freestyle and backstroke swimming, respectively.

After six days of hard work, determination, skill and celebrations, the Roberto Durán Arena in Panama City will host the closing ceremony on April 27, but not before the finals of the athletics events take place there on the same day. 

Various other activities were held parallel to the sporting competition including the Intentional Sports Forum for Development, during which Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, signed the Panama Declaration which seeks to channel vital resources into protecting the rights of people with special needs in the field of sports.

During the encounter, experts, officials and athletes reviewed the situation reading people with learning disabilities and sport, with the aim of finding real solutions to existing problems.

The first Special Olympics Latin America Regional Games was held in El Salvador in 2006, with the intention to bring together sports lovers with learning disabilities every four years at a different site.

The most recent edition of the tournament saw the participation of some 800 athletes from 21 countries competing across nine disciplines: athletics, basketball, bowls, bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, tennis, table tennis and volleyball.
Meanwhile, the event also saw the participation of guest country Jamaica, as well as over 400 volunteers who ensured that the events held across eight sporting facilities ran smoothly.

According to President of the Special Olympics in Panama, Yolanda Eleta, the encounter not only represents a unique opportunity to incorporate people with learning difficulties into society through sport, but also to give them the respect and admiration they deserve.