Para-taekwondo athlete Elliott Loonstra discussed his experiences as the sole representative of Aruba at events such as the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima.
Loonstra was the only Para-athlete from Aruba in Lima last year, with 1,850 athletes competing in total.
Competing in the under-75 kilogram K44 discipline, he lost in his opening round to Brazilian Alexandre dos Santos.
"It was a very unique experience to me because it’s kinda like finding a whole different tribe of people you can relate to," Loonstra said.
"For example me in Aruba, I don’t have other people with a disability so a lot of the times I feel I’m the only guy here with a disability.
"But once I was there and saw everyone, everyone is just rocking out, showing off how talented they are.
"I remember the first day I was there, a guy did a double spin kick, and I’m just looking at him like 'Wait. What? How did you do that?'"
Lima 2019 was his first multi-sport competition and Loonstra revealed he had underestimated the size of the event.
"On the flight to Lima I was just strangely calm because I didn’t understand how big the event was," he said.
"But when I walked into the Opening Ceremony, if you find the clip of my face, you can see the moment when I’m like 'OK, I understand how big this is now'.
"And immediately it changed my attitude of 'OK we’re just at another tournament having a fight' to 'Oh no no no, this is the next level, high-level tournament'.
"That was a huge shift in perspectives."
Despite the postponement of Tokyo 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Loonstra revealed he is still aiming to make his Paralympic debut in the Japanese capital next year.
Like many athletes, he has had to train in his garden due to the closure of gyms and facilities.
"I’m definitely planning to still compete in taekwondo," he said.