(ATR)The Parapan Am Games opening ceremony happens Friday night as the two torches converge in Toronto.
This marks the first time in the history of the event where two separate flames were used for the torch relay, one starting in the east and one in the west of Ontario. The flames will conclude their five-day journey as they converge as one at the Parapan Am Athletics Stadium.
The stadium is a new venue constructed for the Pan Am and Parapan Ams built in the heart of York University. The venue will serve as the track and field stadium for the university once the Parapan Am Games conclude.
The venue will be home to the opening ceremony Friday evening. The ceremony and the games are jointly organized by the host city committee Toronto 2015 and the International Paralympic Committee.
The IPC says Toronto will do for the Parapan Am Games what London did for the Paralympic Games. With 15 sports that are all Paralympic qualifiers, the competition will be fierce according to organizers.
Like the Pan Am Games that concluded in July, Canada will be sending its largest delegation ever to the Parapans with 216 athletes. The team hopes to get back into the top three in the medal count after a fifth place finish at the last Parapans in Guadalajara, according to Canada chef de missionElisabeth Walker-Young.
"We used to be leaders in the Paralympic nations, the Canadian Paralympic goal is to become leaders once again in the Paralympic movement," Walker-Young said.
Marco Dispaltro will be the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony for Canada. Dispaltro is a wheelchair-bound boccia player.
Carrying the flag for the United States is five-time Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy who will lead the 240 athlete delegation into the stadium. Lovejoy is a swimmer that has won eight Paralympic medals in his career.
Twelve of the 15 sports on the program will begin on Saturday following the conclusion of the opening ceremony. Athletes in road cycling, powerlifting and swimming will compete for the first medals of the games.
Competition for the Parapan Am Games will run from August 8 to 15.
Written by Kevin Nutley
Homepage photo: Toronto 2015
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