Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

mercedes 1HAVANA TIMES — I can’t access my email account regularly, so it’s hard to keep you up to date on the rewarding changes that have been taking place in my life recently.

Some months ago, as part of the sporting activities I am involved in, I had represented my province in a wheelchair tennis competition. There, I learned that there were no women badminton players in the capital. As I am passionate about challenges, I didn’t think twice about it and tried my luck at the sport. The result was that I managed to make it to the national pre-selection squad.

After much training and focusing on improving my skills, I was soon able to wear Cuba’s uniform at the national competition. Badminton for the physically challenged is a new phenomenon in our country, which is why not many people are eager to practice the sport today.

I had to travel to the province of Las Tunas and stay there, away from my family, for two months. We would train the day through, even on weekends. There was no rest for us. I had to make twice the effort, as I was just starting to get to know the sport and wasn’t as good as the rest. The fact I don’t use my wheelchair all of the time turned into a disadvantage there.

Another obstacle I ran into was that, a short time before leaving for Las Tunas, I fractured my left metatarsus. As you may have guessed, the injury didn’t give me second thoughts, on the contrary. During the training, I had to be sitting down the whole time, so that didn’t affect me in the least. The worst part was leaving my kid alone: I am a single mother and was very worried about him. Thankfully, Carlos is already a teenager and he is a fairly responsible person.

They found some rather improvised accommodations for us. There were some setbacks owing to our condition, but we managed, helping one another. The 17-hour train trip back to Havana was exhausting, a terrible ordeal for disabled people, but we pulled through, thinking that, if we managed to get past the training stage, we would soon be taking part in an international event.


Mercedes González

Mercedes González Amade: I'm 38 years old and physically challenged. I struggle daily in this life be it on crutches or in a wheelchair. I have a 12-year-old son who is my main inspiration and for who I have fought tooth and nail. I hold a position in the governmental institution that serves the handicapped in my part of the capital. In the afternoons I practice tennis well away from where I live. My intention with Havana Times is to help spread the desire to live and to do so with dignity, especially to persons with physical and motor difficulties.

2 thoughts on “Another Rewarding Challenge in My Life

  • Some day I’ll get away from work and show up in Cuba .. I work with the handicapped every day.. I now have a sports section and we do everything from wheelchair tennis, socker, rugby, swimming .. There is nothing better than to see someone that has been stuck in the house to recieve the freedom of a wheelchair .. Sports, even better.. But just to get out of the house would be great. If you know of an organization (garage) that could refurbish power wheelchairs (24 volt DC motors) and some way to get them there …. Let me kinow. I would gladly come along and help.

  • Well done! There is no greater reward for an athlete than to represent their country. If you do represent Cuba at international level, remember that it is your country, your fellow Cubans that you represent, not a political regime. Also, the flag of Cuba when raised on high belongs to the people of Cuba, your fellow citizens, not to the Castro family regime. Tefilo Stevenson clarified that to me a few years ago. That flag will be raised long after the regime has gone.

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