Dominica was among 41 countries that marched in the parade of athletes as the 2019 Pan American Games officially got underway on Friday in Lima, Peru.
The grand ceremony featured over 6500 athletes and more than 1500 performers.
Performances highlighted the rich culture of the Peruvian hosts including several traditional dances and choreographies that captured the heritage of “the richest country in the world”.
According to Carlos Neuhaus, President of the Lima 2019 Organizing Committee, “The people, food and a thousand years of history intertwined into the fabric of our city is also part of Lima 2019, which will be an unforgettable experience for those who are lucky enough to enjoy it.”
Some 20 Caribbean nations are set to participate in the games including Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Haiti, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Dominica can expect exceptional representation by Commonwealth Games medalist Thea LaFond who will compete in the women’s triple jump while Dillon Simon aims to at least build on his 2018 Commonwealth Games finalist position, secure a personal best and beat his national record in shotput.
The athletes are accompanied by President of the Dominica Olympic Committee Billy Doctrove, Secretary General (Ag) of the Dominica Olympic Committee Fenella Wenham, Chef de Mission Brendan Williams, Coach Aaron Gadson and Press Attaché Sheena Harry.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Coach Gadson noted, “It is an honour and privilege to be representing Dominica at the Panam Games. I am really excited to reach the Games Village and assist our athletes in the best way I know how. Our athletes have been working hard and I expect that they will be ready to have their best performances of the season and contend for a medal.”
The athletes themselves are very optimistic about their chances.
Simon, who was a finalist in the 2015 Pan American Games said, “I feel pretty decent going into the games. I’m ready to represent my country well and hope that once I get to the facilities and start training more consistently with the track and weight room and stuff like that, once I get in the groove, I will be fine and iron out a couple things. But I’m looking forward to doing well and ending the season on a good note.”
The first competition for the Dominican athletes will be in August.
Below are short biographies on Thea Lafond and Dillon Simon.
Short Biography on Thea LaFond
Thea LaFond from Canefield began representing Dominica at the age of 16. Over the past 9 years, she has brought home hardware in the Carifta games for the island and most recently a bronze medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Women’s Triple Jump. LaFond was also an accomplished U.S. collegiate athlete as she won conference and All-American awards in both the Women’s High and Triple Jump at the University of Maryland, College Park. She looks forward to the PanAm Games as a place to increase her triple jump personal best with the hope of securing a medal for Dominica.
Short biography on Dillon Simon
Dillon Simon of Goodwill attended the St. Mary’s Academy and then moved on to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Michigan Technological University. He is the national record holder in both the shot put and discus. Among his accomplishments, Dillon was a finalist in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a finalist in the 2015 Pan Am Games as well as a finalist in the 2015 NACAC Games. And because he trains hard, his hobbies are very low key: fishing and sleeping.