With Alpine Skiing and Snowboard events at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, solutions exist for disabled athletes to compete. As World Sailing seeks for its sport to be re-introduced to the Paralympic Summer Games, the international federation is learning that kiteboarding can provide the sizzle.
To increase the growth of Para Sailing globally, World Sailing held its first ever Para Kiteboarding Development Program, gathering 11 coaches and athletes from seven countries for four days on Lake Garda, Italy.
Top athletes and coaches from Australia, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands and USA convened on June 23-26 for on-water and classroom sessions to build out an international competition and growth framework for Para Kiteboarding.
“It’s been intense – we’ve been on the water from 7am, then back in the classroom, hammering out frameworks for what Para Kiteboarding could look like on a global, organized scale,” explained Florida-based Frances Osorio Rivera, 34, a US Army veteran, below the left leg amputee, kiteboarding instructor, and Cabrinha/Dakine sponsored athlete and sales representative.
Willem Hooft, the 32-year-old athlete representative from Netherlands, had a motorbike accident five years ago which left him in a wheelchair. “Despite regularly hearing that my plans to kiteboard were not realistic – too difficult to learn and the risks too big for someone in a wheelchair – I decided to go for it,” shared Hooft…