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Athletes strut their stuff at Paralympic Village welcome ceremony

2016-09-02 09:30:00 Rio 2016

Tunisia's Rima Abdelli leads her team in the celebrations at the Paralympic Village (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal)

It was party time at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Village on Thursday (1 September) as athletes from Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Latvia were greeted with a live music show featuring Brazilian rhythms and tribal dancing.

Tunisia's Rima Abdelli stole the show with some slick dance skills, strutting her stuff alongside the professional performers and encouraging her team-mates to join in. The shot put athlete, who competes in the F40 class for athletes with short stature, said she could not resist once the music started.

Abdelli lets herself go with the music (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal)

"I love dancing, I feel it, I can't expain it – when I hear some music I automatically dance, go for it, I can't help it," said Abdelli. "Just like in shot put, I will go for it. I'd love to win a medal, any colour, I'll fight for it.

"You know to dance is not knowing how to dance, but you know how to listen and how to feel it, and the movement comes – I want to do it again!"

All delegations receive an official welcome ceremony at the village, with the aim of sharing some of the host nation's culture and customs with the guests.

"It's awesome, we like it so much, it has the spirirt of Brazil, the Amazon flavour, these kind of things we like," said Abdelli.

The welcome ceremonies mix traditional and modern dance styles (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal) 

After the Paralympic Village opened on Wednesday, Cuba were the first nation to receive a welcome ceremony that evening. Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Latvia were next up just before lunchtime on Thursday. After the protocol of the flag raising and national anthems, the real fun began.

The first athletes and support teams began moving into their accomodation at the Paralympic Village on Wednesday morning, with delegations from Cuba, Canada, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and China among 2,500 people to take up residence on the first day. Another 1,000 guests were expected to be settled in by Thursday night.

Team Cuba was the first to be greeted at the village, on Wednesday (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal) 

The village welcome ceremony organising team expect to do about 45 similar ceremonies over the next six days. The formal duties were followed by a tribal dance spectacale, including indigenous chants and African drums, and then some more modern Brazilian sounds, with a taste of carioca funk.

There was also a welcome speech from the village mayor, ex-player basketball player and two-time Olympic medallist Janeth Arcain, and her deputy, former sprinter and multiple Paralympic champion Adria dos Santos.

Between the dancing, the athletes expressed their excitement ahead of the Games. Latvia's Diana Dadzite, who will compte in javelin and discus, said: "That was amazing, so friendly, this welcome is like a mini opening ceremony, it's really nice to be here and be part of it."

The Latvian delegation at the village on Thursday (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal) 

"I'm hoping to do well in javelin and make the podium," added Dadzite. "I'll stay positive, even if I don't make it, as this is such a rare and special opportunity that comes only every four years, if you are lucky."

The United Arab Emirates were also welcomed to the village on Thursday (Photo: Rio 2016/Alexandre Vidal)

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