Yesterday, Acord Colombia announced that Maritza Arango had been named Their Paralympic Sportswoman of the Year. The T11 athletics competitor has had an impressive year.
At last year’s Grand Prix 2015 IPC Athletics Grand Prix 2015 in Grosseto, Italy, running with guide Jonathan Sánchez, she set a continental record of 4:51.66 in the women’s T11 1500 meter event. At the same competition, she won a silver medal in the women’s T11/T12 event where she was the only T11 competitor in the field. The only woman on the Colombian team at the 2015 Parapan American Games, she brought home gold in the 1500 meters while setting an event record time of 5:02.82. In 2015, she was part of the Colombian delegation at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha. Her results were mixed, because while having crossed the finish line first in the 800 meters, she was disqualified after judges ruled her guide crossed the line ahead of her. It was not all bad, as she won a silver medal in the 1,500 meter event.
Arango is from Argelia, Antioquia. The 38-year-old lost her vision when she was 14 because of retinosis pigmentaria. She first started competing in athletics in 2008, coming into the sport with no previous experience and having lived a rather sedentary life. Currently, she trains every day as part of her 2016 Summer Paralympic preparations where she expects to come away with a medal. The major hurdle in her preparations is a lack of high quality competition in country that can limit some of her training opportunities.