May 18 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Saturday, August 18, 2012
As the rest of London geared up for the final weekend of Olympic magic on Friday, a small Victorian terrace in Bounds Green got ready to welcome the arrival of the Paralympic team from Haiti.
The four-strong contingent – two of them athletes – had travelled almost 4,500 miles from their island to Queens Road to be greeted by fellow Haitian Michel Philistin, who has opened his doors to the team – “to me, they are family” – until they enter the Olympic Village later this month.
Josue Cajuste and Nephtalie Jn Louis will be representing their country, which attracted international attention after a devastating earthquake.
It might surprise some, used to seeing pictures of utter destruction on the island, that Haiti has managed to send any athletes at all.
It clearly wasn’t easy, as trainer Pierre Richard Medor explained. “After the earthquake everything was stopped. All the people were in the shelters and we did not have space. But in 2011, we started to train.”
Josue and Nephtalie now have high hopes of doing well in the shotput and javelin events they are both competing in. They will be training at New River Sports Centre in White Hart Lane, Wood Green, before the Games. Michel jokes that if they don’t succeed, Pierre will not be welcomed home.
Josue, 28, has a long history of excelling at sport. Disabled from birth, he quickly realised being athletic – from football to swimming – gained him acceptance and helped bring him opportunities he would not otherwise have had.
“I used to play football [using crutches] with other people without disabilities,” he said. “Sometimes I used to fall, but they did not laugh.”
Josue’s talents on the pitch means, while this is his first Paralympics, he is used to international competition –most recently at a tournament in Miami.
“We played with people without disabilities, and we won 3-0,” he smiled.
Nephtalie, who contracted polio when she was younger, only took up sport in 2006. Once, she dreamed of being a police officer, but became a receptionist – a job she no longer does after an accident at work.
Nephtalie, 33, now hopes – as Josue does – that doing well here will help more disabled people achieve their dreams in a country where being disabled is a stigma.
“The children do not think they are anybody,” she said. “Normally with disabled people, they have a lot of talents, a lot of abilities but most of the time they do not find the help in order to show them to capacity.
“The message is [to people at home], all of the world saw that other disabled people have these kinds of abilities and they will know they can do better. They can have the same opportunities as other people.”