Mercedes Gonzalez Amade
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.