Brazilian Paralympian Felipe Caltran Vila Real has spoken of his excitement for the 2017 World Intellectual Impairment Sport Swimming Championships which get underway in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 28 November.
The 20-year-old made his Paralympic debut at his home Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Whilst he did not make the podium he is still looking to build on the experience.
“I have no words to describe the emotions I felt in front of that crowd,” he said. “It was certainly amazing.”
As one of his country’s best swimmers with an intellectual impairment, Vila Real already has his eyes on Tokyo 2020 and major regional events:
“I expect to be there, obviously, but more than that I aim at a medal. I think a medal in the Paralympics is the main goal, but also medals at the Parapan Am Games and so on.”
Vila Real began swimming when he was two-years-old. A doctor advised his parents he should take up sports “because of [his] hyperactivity”.
He will line-up in Aguascalientes as the defending champion in the men’s 200m butterfly. He is also a silver medallist in the 400m individual medley.
“I expect it to be a Championship full of good memories and achievements for me,” he said. “I expect a good competition because the athletes there are really determined.”
Vila Real’s rivals include Japan’s Taiga Hayashida. He took bronze behind the Brazilian in the 400m individual medley in Ecuador in 2015.
“I haven’t taken a time to look at the start lists, but I am sure there is going to be a great field of athletes over there,” Vila Real concluded.
Aguascalientes 2017 will run from 28 November – 3 December and will see more than 150 athletes from 20 countries compete. It will be the biggest gathering of swimmers with an intellectual impairment since Rio 2016.
As well as athletes with intellectual impairments, trial groups for Down syndrome and autism will also be contested for the first time.