A number of countries participating at the 2016 Summer Paralympics have only one representative. These countries include Afghanistan, Aruba, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Laos, Liberia, Macau, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania and the United States Virgin Islands. With a day and a half of competition completed in Rio, some countries like Aruba have finished their Paralympic journey while others like Afghanistan, Benin, Liberia, Malta and United States Virgin Islands still await their debuts.
Afghanistan’s sole representative in Rio is Mohammad Naiem Durani. The 42-year-old is competing in the men’s F44 javelin throw later tonight. The event is the only one on his Rio program. He has had some international experience, with an eighth place finish at the 2014 Asia Para Games in the discus, and a twelfth place finish in the long jump.
Jesus David de Marchena Acevedo is Aruba’s first ever Paralympic sportsperson as the country makes their debut in Rio. He is also the country’s only representative at these Games. His time in Rio as a competitor is done after posting a DNS for the men’s S7 50m freestyle earlier this morning. de Marchena Acevedo took up swimming when he was a 9-year-old in Aruba. The swimmer who was born with spina bifida is coached by Jesus Arias de la Cruz. Outside of swimming, he also does equestrian and kayaking.
Benin’s sole representative in Rio is Cosme Akpovi, who is scheduled to compete in the men’s F57 javelin throw. His international highlight to date is a fourteenth place finish at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France. This appearance came ten years after he first took up the sport. He has been recognized nationally his sporting achievements, and was recognized in 2011 when he was honored by the Benin National Fund for the Development of Sport. Akpovi is coached by Goudjo Ambrose Adanhoume.
The Faroe Islands are represented by one woman in Rio, one of the few countries with only one sportsperson to be represented by a woman. 18-year-old Krista Morkore has three events on her Paralympic program including the women’s S10 50m freestyle, women’s S10 100m freestyle and the women’s S10 400m freestyle. She finished seventh in her heat in the 50m and did not qualify through to the finals. She has two more events left on her Paralympic program.
The Dutch and English speaking Morkore started swimming when she was a 6-year-old in Klaksvik, assisted into the sport because her father worked at the local pool. She has had lots of international experience in the past year following her international debut, competing at the 2015 German Open and the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Glasgow.
James Siaffa is Liberia’s sole representative in Rio. The 36-year-old is competing in the men’s -80kg powerlifting event.
Malta’s sole representative is S4 swimmer Vladyslava Kravchenko. The 25-year-old has three events on her Rio program, including the women’s S5 50m backstroke, the SB4 100m breaststroke and the S5 50m butterfly. Originally from Ukraine, Kravchenko moved to Malta with her mother when she was a 9-year-old. After becoming a paraplegic in 2008 as a result of an accident, the accountant took up swimming as part of her rehabilitation, found a true love for the sport and decided to take it up professionally. She went on to make her national team début in 2013, and was later named the 2013 Para-Athlete of the Year by the Maltese Sports Journalists Association. A leader behind the scenes in sports, in 2015 the European Paralympic Committee named her as a youth ambassador.
The Seychelles are represented in Rio by Cyril Charles. The 53-year-old shopkeeper is competing in the men’s F57 javelin throw. He took up athletics in 1986 as a wheelchair racer before later focusing on field events. A two-sport athlete, he found international success in swimming at the 2003 Indian Ocean Games in Moka, Mauritius where he won gold in the 100m freestyle event.
The United States Virgin Islands have one competitor at the Games, 34-year-old Ivan Espinosa. The St. Croix native is competing in one event in Rio, the men’s T37 1500 meters. He only made his international debut last year, and has both the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2015 ParaPan American Games under his belt. He has additional international experience from a meet in Phoenix, Arizona that same year. He first took up the sport in 2011, and has a goal of being able to compete against other able to compete against able-bodied athletes. Outside of athletics, he also competes in para-triathlon.