"It is not usual for a multinational company to focus on an adapted sports athlete, it is an achievement that Dani has achieved through his effort," Liliana Suarez, president of the Mexican Paralympic Committee, explains to EL PAÍS. In the commercials, Daniela Velasco is seen running through the streets of Mexico City and in the end, her guide describes a large mural of her face made with flowers. The latest ranking of Para athletics, the Mexican leads the 1,500 meter test.
With 24 years, Velasco has in his room a bronze medal of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and five medals won in the Parapan American Games. It has the winning habit. The last time he got on the podium happened last July when he won the gold in the 1,500 meter test in Lima. In these days he seeks to earn a place in Tokyo 2020 at the time of maturity and while trying in his native Mexico City there are posters everywhere with his image.
His mother, Margarita Maldonado, told him the competitions of the Athens Olympic Games. In that summer of 2004, Daniela got hooked on athletics because the energetic Ana Guevara won the silver medal in the 400-meter test. At that moment he found an athlete to emulate, but she just wanted to run. "You don't have to win a competition to be happy or successful," Velasco told Claro Sports. A year later he entered the Paralympic Committee. His first major competition was at age 16 and he hung three medals: one silver and two bronzes.
In Paralympic sports there are different classifications of their athletes in the disciplines. In For athletics for people with visual weakness there are three classifications according to their condition. Velasco competed in the speed tests (100 and 200 meters), but over the years the strategy of his coach, Fabricio Chamor, was to participate in tests of greater resistance such as 1,500 meters. In some events, for example, there are competitions that cannot be performed due to the lack of athletes who have the same type of disability.
Velasco has not run alone. His guides have been followed to his right. The first of them was Jose Fuentes, with whom he achieved a synchrony that made him shine in speed tests. Since 2017, Cesar Belman has accompanied the Mexican in her test change. “I am in charge of communicating to Dani how the career is developing. I tell him the partials, where we are located, if there is someone who wants to pass us and in the end I try to motivate them to be able to close as best as possible, ”explains Cesar Belman, his current guide, to this newspaper.
Paralympic athletes have obtained better results than conventional ones in Mexico: the former have won, since 1972, 288 medals (97 golds, 90 silver and 101 bronzes); the latter, since their first Olympic Games in 1900, have won 69 medals (13 gold, 24 silver and 32 bronze). In spite of that, the focus of Mexican media is on joint sports, such as football, its king sport. Velasco wants to devote himself with one more medal, but to do so he must give the mark at the World Athletics Championships in Dubai.
The advertising campaign of the American company "is the opening for the Paralympic sport, at least in Mexico, to raise awareness about our athletes and, above all, to have an impact on society," says Suarez of the Mexican Paralympic Committee.
"In athletics I found a way to live, to integrate into the world," Velasco said in an interview with a magazine from the Intercontinental University, where he studies Psychology. From Daniela's surroundings they detail that her best qualities are the tenacity and perseverance with which she competes. Velasco tells his feats as who does a mischief and now leads a generation of athletes who had been in the shadows.
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