TORONTO – U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, announced today that swimmer Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Georgia), a five-time Paralympian, has been selected as the flag bearer for the U.S. Parapan American Team at the Opening Ceremony for the 2015 Parapan American Games on August 7. Lovejoy was voted by representatives from various sports across Team USA.
“It’s just an honor,” Lovejoy said. “Anyone on this team is deserving but it feels incredible to be elected by my teammates and other athletes.”
After sustaining a spinal cord injury from a car accident in 1986, doctors introduced water into his rehabilitation program. Lovejoy, who earned his bachelors of science in therapeutic recreation from Morris Brown College, started swimming shortly after completing therapy. In 1994, he won his first world championship medal.
Lovejoy won his first gold medal at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games in the 50-meter backstroke while also setting a world record.
The 58-year-old has eight Paralympic medals to his name, including four gold. In 2006, Lovejoy became the first athlete to win gold medals at the world championships in two non-related sports, swimming and fencing.
Lovejoy will lead the 240-member U.S. team into the Opening Ceremony on August 7 at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium.
“I don’t take it lightly,” Lovejoy said. “It’s a credit to me that my other athletes acknowledge what I’ve done through the years. I’m just thankful that I’m able to do it and have fun. I’m glad to be hanging around these young kids because they give me so much energy.”
The 2015 Parapan American Games will take place from August 7-15 in Toronto. The eight-day competition will feature more than 1,600 athletes from 28 countries who will compete in 15 Paralympic sports.
“I’m just thankful to be able to do this for Team USA and represent my country,” Lovejoy said.