Tuesday, November 30

“Neither the wheelchair nor my disability have ever determined who I am” – Teresa Perales

If you have followed the Paralympic Games in recent years, you have surely heard of Teresa Perales, Spain’s most decorated Paralympic athlete with a staggering 27 medals in her career. From losing the use of her legs at 19 to becoming a swimming legend, Teresa has inspired many along the way and euronews landed an exclusive interview with her right after she was awarded a Princess of Asturias Award for Sports.

Where do you get your resilience, your inner strength?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Strength comes from within, it is motivation. It is very good to be motivated by others and to be told” come on Teresa, you can do it! “But when you are training, you train alone and you do not have people to encourage you. So it is important that each one finds his inner strength and understands why he does things. I do it because I like it, because I am passionate about it, because I love to compete because I love winning and I always dream of the possibility of getting on that podium. ”

A few years ago you wrote a book entitled ‘The strength of a dream’ in which you talk not only about training physically but also emotionally. Can you train emotions?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Of course and in fact, it is fundamental and even more so for athletes. You have to think that we dedicate 4 years of our lives to maybe 30 seconds, which is the time that one of our competitions can take. Being able to manage emotions , especially fear, stress and panic is very difficult and it is a job that has to be done every day for many years. There are many tools, many techniques, everyone uses the ones that suit them and I have been working with mine since Athens and the truth is that I have done quite well so far, judging by the results. ”

At 19 your life changed completely, but you recovered. What would you say to a young man facing the same obstacle?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Well, I would tell them that they have their lives ahead of them, fortunately, they have their whole lives ahead of them. I would say that they have to learn to do things differently, sometimes it is very complicated and you I think the world is over and that it is impossible, but hey, from my experience, of course, what I can add is that nothing is impossible in this life. It is a matter of will and I have always said that determination can move mountains. and it is true. My experience It has led to doing things that the average person you will meet on the street would never have thought of doing. I have pushed myself because I wanted to do it and the wheelchair has accompanied me. Neither my wheelchair nor my disability has ever determined who I am as person, you know, is simply a companion that I take on my trip and who accompanies me at all times ”.

Why did you choose to swim?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Because it was cheaper than athletics! I really liked athletics, speed and seeing them with their wheelchairs, these specials were for speed but it was much more expensive and in the summer I had also been swimming with a life jacket and doing my first stroke. I found that I liked the feeling of floating. I liked the freedom I felt in the water when I moved and then when I got into the pool I would say “I want to do this, I want to learn to swim.” I wanted to swim well, I didn’t intend to compete but one thing led to another and in the end I saw that the timer stopped earlier and earlier and I liked it a lot so I started racing ”.

Have you ever thought about quitting this sport?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Yes, many times … many times! I have been doing this for many years. I have been competing for 24 years, so it is normal that throughout this long career, you have moments where you feel like giving up. smoking because you think “I can’t, I’m not capable, this is too much for me, it’s costing me too much.” More when you are a mother and are training at the same time. Sometimes your professional life absorbs you too much. and there have been times when I’ve been tempted to quit, but all I had to do was look back and think about the beautiful moments I’ve experienced while competing. These memories helped me say “I’m not going to quit smoking, wearing it.”

How do you balance your family life with sports?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“With the Google calendar! I always have to take into account the family calendar, after school, the school calendar, my husband’s work calendar, my skills, my training, my work calendar. Well, it’s a bit complicated, it’s almost like playing Tetris sometimes, but you can do it and if you are well organized, in the end, you have time for everything. ”

This year you have been awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for Sports. Is it a dream come true?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“It’s a dream come true! It seemed that I was the eternal candidate! For many years, my candidacy had been on the table and I had never won and this year they finally granted it to me and the truth is that I was very surprised because I did not know that this would happen, so when I got the phone call, I saw an unknown number on my mobile phone and I knew that the jury had met and that it was the day the decision was made, so at that moment I thought “look, to These hours of the day must be calling the winners hahaha “and I picked up the phone and heard:” Teresa, I’m calling you from the Princess of Asturias Foundation. … “and then my heart was pounding.”

Does Teresa Perales ever lose her smile?

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“Well sometimes … although almost never or maybe when I sleep! No, but seriously it is not worth losing the smile, it is nice to smile and it is contagious. When you smile, the person in front of you smiles back at you. in the end, it’s like giving someone a gift. ”

Thank you for your time and see you in 2024 at the Paris Games.

Teresa Perales, Paralympic champion:

“We will always have Paris.”


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