Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Athletes at the Paralympics

The Olympics ended a few weeks ago, and now it’s time for the Paralympics, which start on Tuesday. The first official Paralympic Games were held in 1960 in Rome, though there were precursors to this historic event. There are at least thirteen athletes from the Basque Country going to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympic Games. They will be competing in events from wheelchair basketball (both men’s and women’s), swimming, rowing and paracanoe, running, cycling, triathlon, table tennis, and archery.

Beatriz Zudaire shooting a basket. Photo by I. Aguinaga and found on noticias de Navarra.
  • Agurtzane Egiluz Ibarguen was born in 1997 in Vitoria, Araba. At the age of 14, she was injured in a bus accident. She is on the Spanish national wheelchair basketball team. She is studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management at the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences the University of the Basque Country.
  • Beatriz Zudaire Garcia is also on the Spanish national wheelchair basketball team. From Pamplona, Nafarroa, she began as an accomplished swimmer, but switched to basketball when a team was formed in Vitoria.
  • Asier García Pereiro is on the men’s Spanish national wheelchair basketball team. He was in an accident when he was 13. In addition to playing basketball, he graduated with a degree in computer science from the University of Deusto. He is the captain of the team.
  • Iñigo Llopis Sanz is from Donostia. He is a swimmer, specializing in the 100 meter backstroke and the 400 meter freestyle. He is also passionate about soccer and has plans to become a coach.
  • Nadia Zudaire Borrezo is also a swimmer, from Zubieta, Gipuzkoa, who will compete in the 400 meter freestyle. In the Berlin Swimming Championship held in July, she set Spanish records for both the 400 and 800 meter freestyle.
  • Higinio Rivero Fernandez is a specialist in the paracanoe. In 2013, he had an accident while climbing that left him paraplegic. He kept his same passion for sport, but channeling it instead into canoe.
  • Jorge Pineda Matabuena is a rower from Getxo. He will compete in the four-crew mixed boat. In this race, the crew must be composed of two men and two women. In addition, two must be physically disabled and two visually impaired, accompanied by a non-disabled helmsman.
  • Estibaliz Armendariz Zubillaga, born without her right leg in Pamplona in 1974, is a rower. She is also an R&D manager for Naitec. She also translated Lawrence Kraus’s The Physics of Star Trek to Spanish.
  • Izaskun Osés Ayúcar was also born in Pamplona, in 1984. She is a blind runner, having won bronze in the 2016 Rio Games in the 1500 meters. She earned a nursing degree but had to give up the profession due to her deteriorating vision.
  • Eduardo Santas Asensio, born in Zaragoza but living in the Basque Country, is a cyclist. Since 2014, he has won 14 medals at the World Championships for Adaptive Cycling. He won a bronze medal in the Mixed Team Spring in the 2016 Rio Games.
  • Rakel Mateo Uriate is a paratriathlete. One of her legs was paralyzed after an accident in 2001. She has been the Spanish paratriathlete champion three times in her career. She is currently ranked 5th in the world. She is from Mungia, Bizkaia.
  • Iker Sastre Sanchez-Vallejo was born in Bilbao in 1977. His sport is table tennis. When he was 23, he suffered a surfing accident that left him with a spinal cord injury. He has won multiple championships in Bizkaia, Euskadi, and Spain. He is currently ranked 9th in the world. He is the first Basque table tennis player to ever play in the Olympics in any form.
  • María Carmen Rubio Larrion is an archer from Pamplona. She was born in 1961. She participated in the 2012 Games in London. She got her start in her archery career thanks to a scholarship from cycling legend Miguel Induráin.

Primary sources: BasqueTeam; Trece deportistas vascos participarán en los Juegos Paralímpicos,

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