Eligio Vento is a benchmark of the Venezuelan Paralympic sport that teaches the world how to enjoy staying on this planet
Eligio Vento, member of the national table tennis team adapted from Venezuela, Parapanamerican medalist, Parasuramericano, former Pan-American youth champion of the discipline, spoke exclusively with LatinAmerican Post to talk about what it means to be part of Paralympic sport.
LatinAmerican Post (LAP): First, how did Eligio Vento get disable? Tell us part of that story
Eligio Vento (EV): I got disabled like many others, in the middle of a traffic accident, but at the age of five. To tell the truth, I have no memories of when I was walking, some flashbacks may come to my memory of those moments but they are not many. From there everything I have in mind, even in my first days of school, was next to my faithful wheelchair. At the end, I think that the more difficult life has the more fun it is to face each of its challenges and overcome them.
LAP: From there, how do you assume your disability in society and in the sport field?
EV: I always liked to do many things, I liked music and art, but even though my parents supported me, I was never that good. That is why I started practicing sports from a very young age. I tried several disciplines, but it was in table tennis that I felt full. I have practiced my discipline for many years and it is thanks to it and the support of my family that today I feel happy in society. Sport has allowed me to reach places and meet people I never imagined, and day after day it continues to do so, and I would not change that for anything.
LAP: How is the support for Paralympic sport today in Venezuela?
EV: For those who read me outside of my country, just imagine that neither conventional sport is currently very supported. Now, for us there is much less support. However, if one has daily difficulties to simply go down a ladder, the lack of economic resources of the Venezuelan government neither me, nor any disabled Venezuelan athlete will stop us. At the end, if one fights for their dreams, one can conquer them.
LAP: Regarding the cancellation of the Parasauramericanos Games in Cochabamba, what do you think?
EV: I sincerely thought it was a demeaning act for the family of adapted sports. If you as an organizing committee compel to organize an event called Pan-American, South American, Olympic Games or whatever you call it, you must also commit to organize the version for disabled athletes. Therefore, Cochabamba and those who gave him the opportunity to bring these games, failed to make them. Hopefully, we will not repeat this again, because we are in a time that is supposed to be inclusive, not the other way around.
LAP: Eligio is also an announcer and gives motivational talks. Do you have a message that you want to leave to people with disabilities, who often lose the desire to move forward?
EV: Many times, there are reasons to be discouraged, but there are also many more reasons to continue living. That is why I, to all people in a wheelchair, or with some motor or intellectual difficulty, [I tell them] that there is no room to go downstairs. Whether in sport or in any activity that we assume in our lives, we must strive to conquer our dreams. There are many people who have their whole body healthy and who in the end do not do anything to stand out and do big things. Therefore, if I can do it from my chair, I invited everyone to do it.
LAP: Finally, what comes in Eligio's life in his sporting life?
EV: Table tennis is a sport that I love and I plan to continue to give it all. Fighting every day is my goal, motivating people through the practice of my discipline and trying to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is what I love most, it is a goal that I am planning and I hope, although it will not be easy , to be able to fulfill it.
LatinAmerican Post | Freddy González
Translated from “Entrevista exclusiva con Eligio Vento: Una mirada a la vida de un deportista paralímpico”