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Paralympics 2012: Rio is coming

Damon Rose Damon Rose | 16:10 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2012

Daniela Luchina - Argentinian wheelchair rugby player

Daniela is excited about Rio 2016

It's all over. The Games have been and gone. But in the dying hours of the existence of the Paralympic Park prior to its planned reincarnation, I wandered around to see who was still there. And I met Daniela Luchina.

Daniela is one of the players on Argentina's national wheelchair rugby team. Having only been together for three years, she explains that they weren't experienced enough to compete at the 2012 Paralympics but hope to be good enough by Rio 2016.

"What do you like about wheelchair rugby?" I wanted to know.

"everything," I nearly have to jump backwards she says it so emphatically. "It's like a lifetime, a way of living. I think. I used to swim for eight years and then I switched to rugby and I don't regret it at all."

And being as I've been immersed in disability sport for the last fortnight, I find I'm perfectly able to understand the next bit of the conversation she leads me into.

"I'm a 1.5," she says, "which means I'm just 1 on the court." Here Daniela is referring first to her physical ability classification - players are rated 0.5 to the highest 3.5 - and then to the fact she's female so a half point is knocked off which can be strategically important to a team on the court which is only allowed to be as high as 8 at any one time.

"So you're Argentina's version of our Kylie Grimes, then?" I'm referring to GB's only female player without even stopping to think, I'm that good with this stuff now.

"Yes, I am. But I think she's a 0.5." She is. But Knock off the female player half point and Kylie is a zero on court - get me!

Daniela came to London to do some sightseeing and, of course, to take in the Paralympics.

"I work for the NPC in Argentina," she tells me, "That's the National Paralympic Committee.

"Argentina needs to improve a lot in different sports. There's been more support recently from the government so its improving. I think we're heading to a good way. I hope in Rio we get to have more medals and more Olympic certificates."

Daniela asks me: "Have you ever been to Buenos Aires." I haven't. "None of the public transportation works for people with disabilities so, imagine, it's like everything works for me now [in London]"

But the lack of access doesn't bother her too much: "I have a car there so I don't mind about the transportation."

I want to know if she's looking forward to the Games in her part of the world in four years time.

"It's really exciting that it's going to be there. We're really close to Brazil."

She tells me the London games have been designed well for disabled people and says everyone has been very friendly and helpful.

"And is it going to be as positive and accessible at the Rio Paralympics?" I'm keen to get her opinion because she seems pretty well connected in South America disability sport circles.

"Brazil takes very good care of accommodations for disabled people, so I think it's going to be like this one or even better. But who knows?"


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