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Nicaragua’s Holmann dreams of reaching the podium at Toronto 2015

Nicaragua’s Holmann dreams of reaching the podium at Toronto 2015

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 22, 2015

Gabriel de Jesus Cuadra Holmann is aiming for gold at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (7-15 August) in Canada. But the bigger priority is qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, something that has been on his mind for nearly three years.

The Nicaraguan track star wants to improve upon his performance from the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games, where he missed the podium (fourth in the 400m T36and fifth in the 200m T36) but still qualified for London 2012.

That Paralympic Games experience made all the difference.

“I have been dreaming about Rio 2016 since I ended competing in London 2012,” Holmann said.

“I want to win the gold (in Toronto 2015); that is what I am training for,” Holmann said. “Nevertheless, my main goal is to qualify for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. I believe it is possible.”

While 19 years old then, Holmann visited a psychologist ahead of London 2012 to help him handle the pressures of competing on the global stage. He competed in the 200m, 400m and 800m T36 events, reaching the finals in all of the events but not the podiums.

Still, he said competing in front of roughly 80,000 people, each time he stepped on the track inside Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, was beneficial in the long run.

“I learned a lot in London and overcame some fears, too,” said the 22-year-old. “Before going, I was in Nicaragua thinking about the race and I couldn’t sleep. … I was so anxious that I almost couldn’t control myself.”

“Now I am prepared to face the Parapan American Games and, eventually, the Paralympics again,” he said. “The idea of participating in another Paralympic Games excites me and motivates me to continue working.”

Holmann will be part of Nicaragua’s 20-strong team that will compete in athletics, goalball and powerlifting at Toronto 2015. It is an event he has been gearing up for since he qualified for the Mexican Open last December. Now, he is using it as a stepping stone toward Rio.

Track events in Toronto 2015 will be held at the Cisco International Broadcast Centre (CIBC) Parapan Am Athletics Stadium, where Holmann is looking to compete in all T36 races – from the 100m to the 800m. Among those events, he believes his greatest chances of medalling are in the three longer distances.

“It is essential to get to Toronto in the best possible shape, because I will be running against the best athletes in the Americas,” said Holmann, who said he trains from Monday to Friday.

“It is not easy to qualify for a Paralympic Games, even more difficult for two. It is still a year and a half to Rio 2016, but I already feel the Games are real.”

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