Cuba’s Special Badminton Games: The Medals

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

badminton-2HAVANA TIMES — I swear that, when I started training, I did so mainly to stay in physical and mental shape. In addition to giving us discipline, sports often surprise us. One is amazed at what one can accomplish through the challenges that a routine throws our way. If it’s a team sport, so much the better. The sport helps you work with others, as one must maintain communication at all costs to obtain good results.

If someone were to ask me whether I feel satisfied with what I’ve accomplished, I would say that I am. I feel active and in shape, and I’ve met marvelous people who have helped me prove my strength. I know I can do even better, which is why I’m going to continue.

The problem is that I do not live alone and maintaining a home, a family, is becoming more and more expensive every day.

At the Pan-American Badminton Games, they’d told us that they wouldn’t pay us anything for participating as the special pre-selection, as they didn’t consider us a national selection (even though we were representing the country). All we could hope for were the medals.

The last day of the competition, despite the little time we had for training and the limitations we faced because of the quality of the wheelchairs and other instruments, such as the rackets, Cuba had made it in all categories. It was quite an unexpected accomplishment for many.

Brazil was a strong rival, a highly experienced team with world-ranked players – but we still gave them a run for their money. Our country secured medals in the following categories:

Arm and leg amputees on wheelchairs: silver for male single, bronze for female single, bronze for male doubles, bronze for mixed doubles, silver for mixed doubles.

Hand amputees: single (silver), male doubles (bronze).

Foot amputees: single (bronze), male doubles (bronze).

With these results, they really didn’t have any other choice but to inform us they would be paying us something for the medals. We expected that, as we need the money and we deserve it for our work, efforts and sacrifice.

That was announced in December and we still haven’t heard a word about the payment. Our organization has paid us tribute, acknowledged our work and praised us for our performance, something I am infinitely grateful for and which makes me feel very proud, as two of those bronze medals are mine.

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.



One thought on “Cuba’s Special Badminton Games: The Medals

  • Cuban friends of mine believed that Americans who participated in the Olympics of 2008 in Beijing were paid based upon their performance. When I explained to them how strictly guarded their amateur status really was, they almost could not believe it. It seems in this post that Mercedes expected to be paid. It’s well known that the Castros reward their amateur athletes with houses and cars and vacations to Varadero. Cuban amateur athletes are paid to train and compete. Seems hardly fair, does it?

    Reply

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