“I only have one leg, but I am a professional athlete!”
Javier is a professional athlete and competed in the Pan American Games in 2019 – ranking in 4th place! He is now focusing on improving his performance and training for the next one. He sat down with Make-A-Wish International ahead of our 2021 World Wish Day campaign, and answered some questions.
What changes did Make-A-Wish bring to your life and your families life by granting your wish? And, what does Make-A-Wish mean in your life now?
“It means a lot! Make-A-Wish helped me get through very difficult times in my life. I could get a distraction in a moment that for a child is very hard to live. For my family, it was also very helpful as my parents were always trying to distract.
Now you might say, ‘it was just a playstation’, but actually it was not. There were many moments of happiness, and distraction from it.”
From a wish child and having your leg amputated, to a professional athlete. What inspires you to make such a big leap and why?
“The truth is that sport has always been in my heritage – my Grandfather and and his brother were athletes! When my leg was amputated, the first thing I wanted to do was to go outside and play with a football and learn how to play without my leg.
After my surgery I was offered to play tennis, and that’s when my love for sport started. The first time I played in a wheelchair and I was always very involved in the training. I then got the opportunity to travel to Brazil and play in the national team. Over the two years I got the opportunity to meet a lot of athletes from different countries and with different backgrounds. One of these athletes asked me to join weightlifting with him.
I started participating for the first time in the National Championships! I then took part in the Pan American Games and lifted 123kg – and I ranked in 4th place! During this time I also started studying to be a physical trainer, so between studies and training I was very busy, but I knew I could achieve what I wished for, with hard work!”
(Image of Javier playing tennis)
Was it hard to start up training with your prosthetic leg? If so, how did you overcome this?
“The prosthetic leg was given to me 6 months after I was amputated, at first it was very hard but now having my prosthetic leg has changed my life. But I have my two hands free and I am more independent now, I can do any exercise I want.”
Did the pandemic bring extra stress to your life? If it did, how did you handle it?
“I think it has brought stress for the whole world but I had the opportunity to keep my head down and train, and doing this with friends was even better. I always try to see the positive side of any situation, and I think that is why I overcame my cancer.
COVID-19 took one of my close family members, my great uncle. He helped me with my career, and he is one of my inspirations – so I dedicated my last medal to him! “
Do you have a message for wish kids?
“Life puts obstacles in your way, and sometimes there are difficult moments, but they are just tests and they will pass. You have to believe in yourselves, in your desires and your goals.
We must smile until our last moment and enjoy the good and the bad. Always remain positive and firm in the face of any difficulty.”
Do you have a message for Make-A-Wish supporters to invite them to support more wish kids?
“Make-A-Wish for me was a huge support, it was something that made a difference when I was in the hospital in a difficult time in my life. Those who support Make-A-Wish need to continue supporting them, as they play a fundamental role in the life of each child.”
(Image of Javier’s wish granting day)