Wednesday, October 18|
East Timor's tiny team gets warm welcome
SYDNEY, Australia -- When senior constable Barry Parrish
inspected the luggage of East Timor's tiny delegation to the
Paralympics, he was surprised by what he saw. There was little more
than some old clothes.
The four East Timorese -- a runner, a power-lifter and two
officials -- carried none of the sophisticated equipment of some of
their rivals in the 12-day competition and only very limited
Parrish went to work to get the team some proper outfits and
equipment before the games began Wednesday with a gala opening
ceremony for some 4,000 athletes from 121 nations at Stadium
Parrish immediately telephoned a friend who owns a clothes shop
and, after he returned home from the Paralympic Accreditation
Center, spent hours phoning potential equipment and clothing
"I had excellent response. I did not have one person that said
no," he said, noting businesses donated underwear, sweaters, tweed
jackets, pants, ties and shoes.
The East Timorese participants could not be contacted Wednesday,
but Parrish said they had expressed gratitude through a translator.
Last month, four East Timor athletes competed in Sydney at the
Summer Olympics as independent athletes, wearing plain white
uniforms and marching behind the flag of the International Olympic
The athletes were invited by the IOC to represent their year-old
nation even though East Timor does not yet have a recognized
national Olympic committee. They were greeted with thunderous
applause when they marched in the Olympic opening ceremony and
later at competitions.
The International Paralympic Committee made a similar
East Timor's economy is in ruins after centuries of Portuguese
colonial rule and 25 years under Indonesian control, which ended
with a referendum for independence last year.
Hundreds of people died during rampages by anti-independence
militias in East Timor after the vote. Shops, market and sporting
facilities were destroyed in the upheaval until a multinational
peacekeeping force restored stability to most of the former
|Alcino Pereira, 58, stretches before a training session in Dili, East Timor. Alcino, who is mentally challenged, is one of two athletes representing East Timor in the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia.|
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