Gustavo Fernández and Francisco Sanclemente, two Latino athletes who are an example of perseverance

Gustavo Fernández is Argentinian and a tennis player, while Francisco Sanclemente was born in Colombia and is a marathon runner. Get to know their stories

Gustavo Fernández and Francisco Sanclemente, two Latino athletes who are an example of perseverance

The ability to overcome adversity is what these two athletes have in common: the Argentine tennis player Gustavo Fernández and the Colombian athlete Francisco Sanclemente. Gustavo Fernández received a hard blow a few weeks ago, after fate he lost for the second year in a row in the final of Wimbledon and against the same opponent. The Argentine, one of the most influential wheelchair athletes in Latin America and the current number 3 in the world in that category, again lost to Swedish Stefan Olsson so he will continue waiting for the third Grand Slam of his career.

Leer en español: Gustavo Fernández y Francisco Sanclemente, dos deportistas latinos que son un ejemplo de superación

Thousands of kilometers away, the Colombian Francisco Sanclemente focuses on his next big event: the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, as well as his other activities. The athlete enjoys the prestige that gave him to obtain the gold medal in the Marathon of Buenos Aires 2016 in Argentina.

LatinAmerican Post tell you about their stories.

Medullary infarction in sportsmen's family

Currently, Gustavo Fernández is 24 years old, but when he was only a year and a half, life played a trick on him. A spinal cord infarction paralyzed him from the waist down. However, that was not as difficult to overcome as it might have been for anyone else. The Clarín said that the native of Río Tercero, Córdoba, recovered until he became the tennis player he is today. He was even the flag bearer of the delegation of Argentina at the opening of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.

The newspaper highlights the sporting origins of Fernandez, which are linked to basketball. His father Gustavo "Lobito" Fernández was a professional basketball player of the Argentine National Team, as is his brother Juan Manuel. However, Gustavo wanted to be different and decided to play tennis.

The decision until today has been the right and this is supported by the numbers. According to the Clarín, Fernández won 17 individual titles for 2016. One of the most resonant achievements was in Paris against the British Gordon Reid, which allowed him to become the first wheelchair Argentine in the history that triumphed in the prestigious Roland Garros Tournament.

Without sponsors

Far from thinking that because of his condition private companies might be interested in his story and support him, Gustavo said in a more recent interview to the Clarín that he does not have "clothing sponsors or other private companies that can help me with money. Yes, I have one wheelchair Invacare, and another one of Yonex rackets, who, although we do not have a signed contract, have always treated me very well. But getting private sponsors in Argentina is very difficult."

Fernandez added in the same interview that he only has a scholarship from the National High Performance Sports Entity (ENARD, by its acronym in Spanish), which has helped him a lot. "Once we set up the calendar, my coach, Fernando San Martín, introduces it to ENARD. We chose flights and hotels trying to accommodate all trips within budget. Luckily, this allows us to compete with world's top-level powers, being at a geographical and economic disadvantaged."

As with his spinal cord infarction, Fernández was not intimidated by this situation. Thus, the Argentine tennis player reached the first place in the ranking of the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP), which is an unprecedented event for Argentine sports. In addition, he was already champion in doubles of Wimbledon (2015) with French Nicolás Peifer, the aforementioned Roland Garros (2016) and more recently the Australian Open (2017), explains Clarín.

You can also read: The story of Bismarck Alfaro: from talented boxer to 'pastry chef' in the streets

From soccer to marathon and now motivating

Unlike Fernandez, Francisco Sanclemente, 30 years old, had a normal life until he was 18 years old. The native of Valle del Cauca finished his high school studies and "played football as goalkeeper". Then an inflammation of the spinal cord, also known as transverse myelitis, prevented him from getting up. According to colombia.co, Sanclemente declared: "Since the first moment, life changes you. You start to understand things differently and that's when I realized the few opportunities that people with disabilities have."

Two years later, while watching the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Sanclemente understood that he could still achieve his dreams. "I saw the 2008 Paralympic Games and I thought I wanted to be an athlete again. I knew I could go back and do more than what I had already done. I had to try harder, but I was going to fulfill that dream."

This is how the Colombian began a routine of getting up at four in the morning to train daily, while in parallel he attended the university. In 2010, the athlete got ready to participate in the Bogota Half Marathon. "I traveled totally alone. I found myself, I completely forgot about the chair and found the independence I needed," he explained.


In 2016, Sanclemente won the gold medal in the continent's most important race, the Buenos Aires Marathon. From there he is ambassador of Marca País and is sponsored by Grupo Argos, BBVA, EPM and the Sheraton Bogota Hotel, among others. He is also a business administrator, lecturer and, in addition, he is certified in coaching.

Protected in his lectures, Sanclemente completed the aforementioned sponsorships to continue his sports career and motivate many people. According to El Tiempo, one of the most famous quotes of the athlete is: "You are worthless if you can not transmit everything you have learned to others. It's not just about training, competing and having good results, but also being able to leave a mark that can help someone to be better. "

El Tiempo concluded that reinvention is the teaching that Francisco can leave in his followers. "Circumstances forced me to reinvent myself, come back to life, dream big again, and that has been my greatest achievement in life," he said.


LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano

Translated from "Gustavo Fernández y Francisco Sanclemente, dos deportistas latinos que son un ejemplo de superación"

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