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Wikinews interviews Spain's most decorated Paralympian, Teresa Perales

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Zaragoza, Spain — On Thursday, Wikinews traveled to Zaragoza, Spain to interview the nation's most decorated Paralympian and IPC Athlete Council representative Teresa Perales. A wide range of topics about the Paralympics and sport in Spain were discussed including the evolution of Paralympic sport, disability sport classification, funding support across all levels of elite sport including the Paralympics and Olympics, the role of sportspeople in politics, sponsorship issues, and issues of gender in Spanish sport.

Wikinews reporter LauraHale interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales

Evolution of the Paralympics

 ((Wikinews )) Hi this is Laura Hale and I'm interviewing Teresa Perales (Raystorm translating), the most decorated Spanish paralympian of all time, and we're in Zaragoza. And you're from Zaragoza, right?

Teresa Perales in Zaragoza on Thursday
Image: LauraHale.
Teresa Perales :Yes, I'm from Zaragoza. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Sí, soy de Zaragoza.

 ((WN )) So, are you confident that Madrid is going to get the 2020, and are you going to stay around?

Teresa Perales : (laughs) I'd love to. I participated in the bid for Madrid 2016. It was a pity we didn't get them, and I hope now it is our chance. But I don't think I will be competing in them. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ (risas) Me encantaría. Estuve participando en la candidatura de Madrid de 2016. Fue una pena que no lo consiguieramos, y espero que ahora sea la ocasión. Pero no creo que llegue a estar compitiendo.

 ((WN )) You first competed in 2000. Has there been a big change from 2000 to London that you've noticed like in terms of the atmosphere, or even the level of sport and issues of classification?

Teresa Perales : Yes, especially in the level of sport. Our sport is more professional, there are more countries that dedicate more resources, and it is much more professional than in 2000. I've seen an evolution, in Sydney times that were gold medal now didn't make it to the finals. Another very important change has been the media coverage, at an international level and specially in Spain. Here in Spain for the first time we've had more than 14 hours of daily coverage of the Games. We've had specific programmes and general coverage, and that has been completely different than in Beijing, Athens, Sydney and previous others. It's been the first time that we've been featured in the main pages of newspapers and opened the first minutes of the tv news. Regarding organization, I don't think there's been much change. I think Sydney organised the Games wonderfully well. Athens wasn't very good, at all. Beijing was amazing: the organization was A plus, volunteers were A plus, everyone was A plus. It was fantastic. And London was like... I'm now using a new term, which it no longer is integration or normalization, it is naturally. As in, now everyone does see us the same, just exactly like the Olympians. Not for our disabilities. The biggest change I've seen is how people look at me, for example, it now is: I've won 22 medals. I am the sportsperson with more medals in Spanish History. And this has been recognised at an institutional and social level. This year I will receive the Gran Cruz al Mérito Deportivo, the highest honor that a sportsperson can achieve in Spain. It never before had been conceded to a paralympic sportsperson, ever. Many national awards, which weren't possible for sportspeople with disabilities, national awards from newspapers, associations, clubs or town halls. It's a radical change. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, sobre todo en el nivel de deporte, nuestro deporte es cada vez más profesional, hay más países que dedican más fondos, y es muchísimo más profesional que en el año 2000. He visto una evolución, en Sidney marcas que eran oro ahora no han entrado en final. Otro cambio muy importante ha sido a nivel mediático, de manera internacional y especialmente en España. Aquí en España es la primera vez que hemos tenido más de 14 horas de seguimiento diario de los Juegos. Hemos tenido programas específicos y seguimiento general, y eso ha sido algo completamente diferente de Pekín, de Atenas, de Sidney y de todos. Ha sido la primera vez que hemos abierto Portadas en periódicos y en los primeros minutos en Telediario. En cuanto a organización, creo que no ha habido demasiado cambio. Yo creo que Sidney organizó los Juegos maravillosamente bien. Atenas no fue muy bueno. Pekín fue tremendo: la organización de diez, los voluntarios de diez, todo el mundo de diez. Fue fantástico. y Londres ha sido como... Yo estoy utilizando ahora una palabra nueva, que ya no es integración ni normalización, que es naturalización. Es decir, ahora de verdad todo el mundo nos ve en la misma balanza, exactamente igual que los olímpicos. No por nuestra discapacidad. El mayor cambio que he visto es como la gente me mira a mi, por ejemplo, ahora es: he ganado 22 medallas. Soy la deportista española con más medallas de toda la Historia. Y así lo han considerado a nivel institucional y a nivel social. Este año me conceden la Gran Cruz al Mérito Deportivo, que es el premio más importante que se da en España a un deportista. Nunca antes lo había conseguido un deportista paralímpico, jamás. Muchos premios nacionales, que antes no eran posibles para deportistas con discapacidad, premios nacionales pues de medios de comunicación, premios nacionales de asociaciones, de clubes o de ayuntamientos. Es un cambio radical.


 ((WN )) I went to London, and the quality of sport — you didn't go there and say, that's a person in a wheelchair. You went, fall down guy in a wheelchair, because the sport was so great. There was no embarrassment like the Olympics where they let the people from Lesotho swim in the pool. [The level of sport] was very equitable [at the Paralympics]. In Australia, there was discussion amongst the Paralympians with the issue of sponsorship because sport is becoming so elite. Do you think Paralympians should be getting sponsorship and on the same level that their able-bodied counterparts are?

Interior panorama of the London Aquatics Centre, one of the venues of the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Image: Alexander Kachkaev.
Teresa Perales : Of course. Yes, I hope, some day. Here in Spain... I don't know well other countries, how they work, I know the financial recognition they get after the Games, but I don't know the level of sponsorship the sportspeople have. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Por supuesto. Espero que un día. Aquí en España... Yo no conozco muy bien otros países, cómo funcionan, conozco el reconocimiento económico que tienen a la vuelta de los Juegos, pero no conozco el nivel de patrocinio que tienen los deportistas.

 ((WN )) Yeah I was asking you about Spain, the Australians are why I asked.

Teresa Perales : Ah, ok. In Spain we have a law, which has to be improved, which is the Law on Patronage ("Ley del Mecenazgo") which regulates the way in which companies sponsor a sportsperson or an event and receive tax deductions in exchange. For example, sponsoring the ADO Paralympian Plan. It's a special plan for Olympians and a plan for Paralympians. The financial support for a Paralympian and for an Olympian is very different. The amount for a Paralympian is a tenth of that of an Olympian. For example, all my medals in London, which were a gold, three silvers and two bronzes, are financially equivalent to one Olympic bronze medal. Very different. Companies prefer to sponsor the event, the plan, before the sportsperson, because they receive more advantages for that. This is in the case of the Paralympians: for Olympians, it is more usual for companies to sponsor sportspeople. For Beijing and London I had a sponsor, Arena, the swimsuit brand, who gave me swimsuits to compete with. For London they gave me three. [Laughs] ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Ah, ok. En España tenemos una ley, que se tiene que mejorar, que es la Ley del Mecenazgo, que regula la manera en que empresas patrocinan a un deportista o un evento y reciben una compensación en impuestos. Por ejemplo, patrocinar el Plan ADO Paralímpico, es un plan especial para deportistas olímpicos y un plan para deportistas paralímpicos. Es muy diferente la cantidad económica de un deportista olímpico y de un deportista paralímpico. La cantidad para un deportista paralímpico es una décima parte de un deportista olímpico. Por ejemplo, todas mis medallas en Londres, que fueron un oro, tres platas y dos bronces, equivalen económicamente a un bronce olímpico. Muy diferente. Las empresas prefieren patrocinar aún así al evento, al plan, mejor que al propio deportista, porque tienen más ventajas. Esto es en el caso de los paralímpicos: en el caso de los olímpicos, sí que es más normal que las empresas patrocinen a los deportistas. Para Londres, bueno, para Pekín y para Londres, yo tuve un patrocinador en especie, que fue Arena, la marca de ropa de bañadores, que me dieron bañadores para competir. Para Londres me dieron tres bañadores. [Risas]

 ((WN )) Is there any difference between men and women?

Teresa Perales : Only in the financial support of the clubs. Of course, that doesn't affect us because we do not get money from the clubs. For example, Mireia Belmonte has an ADO sponsorhip, a Federations sponsorship, and well now she has problems with her club because she wanted to get the same amount of money as the men, and so she left the club. But she gets money from three places: ADO, Federation, and club. In our case it's ADO only. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Solamente en la cantidad económica en los clubes. Claro, eso a nosotros no nos afecta porque no cobramos de los clubes. Por ejemplo, Mireia Belmonte tiene beca ADO, tiene beca de la Federación, y bueno ahora tiene problemas con el club porque quería cobrar lo mismo que los chicos, y entonces por eso dejó el club. Pero ella cobra de tres sitios: beca ADO, Federación, y club. En nuestro caso es beca ADO.

 ((WN )) In the US, the system is, you need sponsorship to get to the elite level. In Australia, the government funds Olympians and Paralympians equally. Like goalball players got 7,000 dollars each, so it is interesting to find out how Spain differs.

Teresa Perales : Yes, but then, here in Spain we have to make a disctintion: we have the ADO Paralympic Plan since 2005, and the first time we perceived money, rewards for medals and ADO Plan, was after Beijing. Very recently. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, pero claro, aquí en España hay que matizar que tenemos el Plan ADO paralímpico desde el año 2005, y la primera vez que recibimos cantidad económica, premio por medallas y Plan ADO, fue después de Pekín. Hace muy poco tiempo.


 ((WN )) As someone who watched the Paralympics, classification was a huge issue. Mallory Weggemann was an American [Paralympic swimmer] who got reclassified at the Games and the Americans were really upset, and the Australians have said classifiers have won them more medals than the athletes themselves. How important is classification for you and are you happy with the system that exists for swimming?

Teresa Perales : Well, since I am also a representative of the Athlete's Council at the International Paralympic Committee, this is a topic we have discussed there. We think that it is important than in the Olympic year, especially in the last months, and above all during the Games, there should be no classifications. Exactly to avoid these cases, in which sportspeople go up a category or down a category, and mess up the ranking. There have been many cases, in Spain we've had cases of people losing a medal because of a reclassification. We are worried about that and by the way in which events, the places to hold the competition, are selected during the Paralympic Games. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Bueno, como además soy representante del Consejo de Atletas del Comité Paralímpico Internacional, este es un tema que hemos tratado ahí. Nosotros creemos que es importante que en el año olímpico, especialmente en los últimos meses, y sobre todo en los mismos Juegos, no haya clasificaciones. Precisamente para evitar estos casos. Casos de deportistas que suben de categoría o que bajan de categoría y que descolocan el ranking. Ha habido muchos casos, en España hemos tenido casos de deportistas que han perdido medalla por tener una reclasificación. Nosotros estamos preocupados por eso y por la manera en que se seleccionan los eventos, específicamente los lugares en los que se hacen las pruebas, en los Juegos Paralímpicos.

 ((WN )) In Atlanta it was really bad...

Teresa Perales : Yes, some even were unable to compete because they were not able to get to the place of the event. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, algunos se perdieron el poder competir porque no tenían comunicación.

 ((WN )) Some of the people with the Paralympic movement think understanding classification is key towards moving the Games forward, like how do you convey that to the public, how classification works, so when somebody sees you, an S5 swimmer, they go, 'we got times like this, but the S1 swimmers, this, and I can't see much of a difference'.

Teresa Perales : Yes, that is one of the problems we have. In fact, it is the biggest problem for having in the future an open class system, a system in which all classes were able to compete together. One of the issues that was being evaluated since before London had to do with the events, not the place but the event, for example 50m butterfly, why now yes and before no, or why before yes and now not? One of the systems proposed, to avoid events from having to disappear, is unifying several categories. In other words, to have one class, but open. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, ese es uno de los problemas que tenemos. De hecho, es el mayor problema para que en el futuro pudiera hacerse un sistema de clases abierto, un sistema en el que todas las clases pudieramos competir juntas. Una de las cuestiones que se valoraban antes de Londres, relacionada con los eventos, no el lugar sino el evento, la prueba, por ejemplo 50m mariposa, ¿por qué ahora sí y antes no, o por qué antes sí y ahora no? Uno de los sistemas que se plantean es, para evitar que desaparezcan las pruebas, hacer que muchas categorías se unifiquen. Es decir, que haya una clase, pero abierta.

 ((WN )) Like skiiing?

Teresa Perales : Yes. It's similar. Yes, yes, similar to that. They are thinking of doing something similar in swimming, athletics, cycling... in sports with many people. This arises because we have a limited number of people who can participate in the Games, which is 4,000. 4,200, total. It's 10,000 Olympians, while we are 4,000. And this is an agreement with the Olympic Committee. The Paralympic Committee makes a deal with the Olympic Committee, and that's why we cannot exceed 4,000, and why some events have to be eliminated. To eliminate events, there is the option to concentrate the classes. But there is a big problem, because the public would not understand me competing against a swimmer who is only missing a hand, because she would obviously beat me. Imagine that I really do beat her not because I arrive before her, but because my time, due to the correction percentages or whatever, is held to be the winner, even if however I came in last position. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Sí. Es parecido. Sí, sí, es similar. Ellos están pensando en hacer algo parecido en natación, en atletismo, ciclismo... en los deportes que más deportistas hay. Esto surge porque tenemos un número limitado de deportistas que pueden acudir a los Juegos, que son 4,000. 4,200, total. Olímpicos son 10,000, nosotros somos 4,000. Y esto es un acuerdo con el Comité Olímpico. El Comité Paralímpico hace un acuerdo con el Comité Olímpico, y por eso no podemos sobrepasar los 4,000, y por eso hay que eliminar pruebas. Para eliminar pruebas, está la opción de concentrar las clases. Pero hay un gran problema, porque el público no entendería que yo compito con una deportista que sólo le falta la mano, que obviamente me gana. Imagínate que yo realmente le gano no porque llegue antes, si no porque mi tiempo, por los porcentajes de corrección o lo que sea, a mi me conceden que sea la ganadora, pero sin embargo he llegado la última.

 ((WN )) That happened in cycling. Set a World Record, did not win a medal.

Teresa Perales : Yes, I know. Yes, but they have, like in ski. In ski what they do is, time goes slower depending in which category you are in, so that at the end it is the same. Then the public really see that the time is going down and they are seeing a timer, seeing the time slowing down, but at the end they are seeing the same time. Then they see who's won because they can see the time. The problem happens in sports in which several of us compete simultaneously, eight lanes. It's difficult to understand. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Sí, lo sé. Sí, pero ellos tienen igual que en ski. En ski lo que hacen es, el tiempo pasa más despacio en función de qué categoría eres, para que al final sea lo mismo. Entonces el público realmente ve que el tiempo está bajando y está viendo un cronómetro, está viendo un tiempo que ve que está yendo más lento, pero al final está viendo el mismo tiempo. Entonces ve que ha ganado porque lo está viendo en el tiempo. El problema es en deportes en los que competimos varios deportistas a la vez, ocho calles. Es dificil de comprender.

 ((WN )) Have you ever had any problems with in your career where they've said...?

Teresa Perales : No. At first I was in New Zealand, I was S6, and then in 2000? No, in 1999, in the European Championships, I was reclassified, and now I am S5, SB4, and SM5, because they saw my arm is not very good. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ No. Al principio en Nueva Zelanda era S6, y luego en ¿2000? No, en 1999, en los Campeonatos de Europa, me bajaron, me reclasificaron, y ahora soy S5, SB4 y SM5, porque vieron que mi brazo no era muy bueno.

Mixing sport and politics

 ((WN )) In the US, there is a view that celebrities and sportspeople should stay out of politics because... they're dumb.

Teresa Perales : [Laughs]. Okay, this doesn't happen in Spain. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ [Risas] Vale, esto no pasa en España.

 ((WN )) Should sportspeople be involved and do Paralympians especially, should they be more involved because of the nature of the sport they are doing in politics, and is it something in Spain and should be done elsewhere in the world... Should there be a call for more Paralympians in politics? Because you protested in Madrid...

Teresa Perales : Yes! ((es))Spanish language: ‍¡Sí!
Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales with Miguel Carballeda; the president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee told IOC inspectors Madrid would stage the "greatest Paralympic Games ever."
Image: Atr1992.

 ((WN )) And you were a politician.

Teresa Perales : I was, I was. [Laughs] No, I worked in politics, I really wasn't a politician. I believe that when you want things to change, and when you believe that there is something that has to change, you need to be part of the change. And that's why I entered politics. That's why I think that it is important that people get involved in politics. And not only... In my case, I didn't get in for sports politics, I got in for general politics, because I believed there were several things that could be improved or that should be changed, and that's why I got in. And I believe that sportspeople are very qualified, because, let me give an example. Me, that I spend seven days a week, six hours every day training, seeing the floor and walls, I just can do whatever I want in this life.[Laughs] I know I am not going to go down in the dumps if I have a problem, because while training I know that things may not work out the first day, the second, the third, but someday they will, right? And that's what sportspeople contribute to any job, and especially to politics. I defend what sportspeople can contribute, I've given conference talks on what a sportsperson can contribute to a company, and what a sportsperson can contribute to politics is the same because it is also a job and a company, right? It's how to manage resources: I manage my resources every day to get the most out of me. I also manage my emotions, because I am a whole. I am a physical whole, but also an emotional whole. And I know I can make decisions in a matter of seconds. I do it every time I compete. My 50m event takes 35 seconds. It's 35 seconds. Four years, seven days a week, six hours every day for 35 seconds. So I can make decisions and work really well in politics or in whatever I want to. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Lo fuí, lo fuí. [Risas] No, yo trabajé en política, no fui realmente una política. Yo creo que cuando quieres que las cosas cambien, y cuando crees que hay algo que tiene que cambiar, tú tienes que formar parte del cambio. Y esto es por lo que yo entré en política. Por eso creo que es importante que la gente se involucre en política. Y no solamente... En mi caso, no me metí en políticas de deporte, me metí en políticas de todo, porque creía que había varias cosas que podían mejorar o que se podían cambiar, y por eso entré. Y creo que los deportistas estamos muy cualificados, porque, vamos a poner un ejemplo. Un deportista. Yo, que me paso siete días a la semana, seis horas entrenando, viendo baldosas, viendo corcheras, es que puedo hacer lo que quiera en esta vida.[Risas] Yo sé que no me voy a venir abajo si tengo un problema, porque entrenando sé que el primer día no sale, el segundo tampoco, el tercero tampoco, pero algún día saldrá, ¿no? Y eso es lo que aportamos los deportistas a cualquier trabajo, y especialmente en política. Yo defiendo lo que puede aportar un deportista, he dado conferencias en las que he hablado de lo que puede aportar un deportista a una empresa, y lo que puede aportar un deportista a la política es lo mismo porque es un trabajo y también es una empresa, ¿no? Es cómo gestionar recursos: yo gestiono mis recursos todos los días para sacar el máximo partido de mi misma. Gestiono también emociones, porque yo soy un todo. Soy un todo físico pero también soy un todo emocional. Y sé que puedo tomar decisiones en cuestión de segundos. Lo hago cada vez que compito. Mi prueba de 50m es 35 segundos. Son 35 segundos. Cuatro años, siete días a la semana, seis horas al día para 35 segundos. Así que puedo tomar decisiones y puedo trabajar muy bien en política o en lo que quiera.

 ((WN )) Because they are disabled, and the way society treats people with disabilities, sets Paralympians off from able-bodied athletes, does that make it special emphasis that they should be more engaged in the political process than someone like Michael Phelps?

Teresa Perales : Yes, because... I had something very clear when I worked in politics, and it's that you cannot make policies without the people to whom they are directed. It's necessary for the people to whom they are destined work in politics, because that will ensure they are right. If not, no. And the people with disabilities, especially sportspeople with disabilities, that we care least of all about the disabilities really, we've had to overcome so many things, that we are able to contribute so much more. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, porque... Yo tenía una cosa muy clara cuando trabajaba en política, y es que no puedes hacer política sin contar con las personas a las que diriges la política. Es necesario que la persona que va a recibir la política trabaje en política, porque así estará bien. Si no, no. Y las personas con discapacidad, sobre todo los deportistas con discapacidad, que lo que menos nos importa es la discapacidad en realidad, hemos tenido que superar tantas cosas que podemos aportar mucho más.

Funding Spanish sport

 ((WN )) The Spanish Paralympic Committee is supported primarily by the Government?

Teresa Perales : No, for us it is the Government and companies. Both do the ADO Paralympic Plan. ((es))Spanish language: ‍No, nosotros es gobierno y empresas. Los dos hacen el Plan ADO paralímpico.

 ((WN )) Do they give you as an athlete the support that you need to be successful?

Teresa Perales : No. No, absolutely not. I don't have a lane for swimming every day, only for me. I have to share it with other, not athletes, not swimmers, people, who come to the swimming pool and then swim, or try to swim. I cannot afford to pay a lane exclusively for my use. It's 30 euros per hour. I have to pay the ticket for the swimming pool, I have to pay all my travels, not with the national team, but my travels for qualifiers, and I can't pay my coach, who is in another swimming pool, in another center, because I can't. Okay, I have to be fair: the ADO Plan pays me 1,900 euros monthly, but I'm a mother, I have a family. I have to pay the school, everything. So this is not enough for me. I have to pay someone to take care of my child when I am competing, when I am in the stages. I remember this year, preparing London, I needed to be out of home for 22 days, twice, ok? I needed to pay someone for being with my baby, and it's very expensive. So it's not enough. I win gold so I have this kind of money — is the same [as] sixth place in [the] Olympics. Someone who was sixth at the Olympics has the same as me with a gold medal. I was recently at the Congress of Deputies, and I was talking about this. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ No. No, absolutamente no. No tengo una calle para nadar cada día, solo para mi. Tengo que compartirlo, no con atletas, no con nadadores, con gente, que vienen a la piscina a nadar, o a intentar nadar. No me puedo permitir pagar una calle reservada para mi. Son 30 euros la hora. Tengo que pagar el ticket de la piscina, tengo que pagar mis viajes, no con el equipo nacional, pero para competir en los clasificatorios, no puedo pagar a mi entrenador, que está en otra piscina, en otro centro, porque no puedo. Vale, he de ser justa: el Plan ADO me paga 1,900 euros al mes, pero soy madre, tengo una familia. Tengo que pagar el colegio, todo. Así que no es suficiente para mi. Tengo que pagar a alguien para que cuide a mi hijo cuando estoy compitiendo, cuando estoy en las concenttraciones. Recuerdo que este año, preparando Londres, tenía que estar fuera de casa durante 22 días, dos veces, ¿vale? Necesitaba pagar a alguien para que cuidara de mi bebé, y es muy caro. Así que no es suficiente. Gané una medalla de oro y recibí la misma cantidad que alguien que fue sexto en los Juegos Olímpicos. Alguien que fue sexto ahí tiene lo mismo que yo con una medalla de oro. Estuve hace poco en el Congreso de los Diputados, y estuve hablando de esto.

 ((WN )) Is the Spanish Paralympic Committee working to fix this? Is it one of their goals to adjust this problem?

Teresa Perales : Yes, but the Spanish Paralympic Committee are... Let me count. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí, pero el Comité Paralímpico Español son... Déjame contar.

 ((WN )) They said six...

Teresa Perales : Yeah. [Laughs] It is true that the companies who support us, who support the ADO Paralympian Plan, it's been easier to get them to sign again after London than those of the Olympians. But then again, it's because the quantities are smaller! ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí. [Risas] Sí que es verdad que las empresas que nos ayudan a nosotros, que patrocinan el Plan ADO paralímpico, ha sido más fácil que volvieran a firmar después de Londres, que las de los Olímpicos. Pero claro, ¡es que la cantidad es mucho menor!

Being an elite female athlete

 ((WN )) In other interviews you talk about your family life. That's interesting, but you are an elite female athlete, and there's other interesting questions. Is there anything...?

Teresa Perales : As female Paralympians, I think we are one, two, three, four. Four Paralympian mothers. Only. That we go to the Games. ((es))Spanish langauge: ‍ Como deportista paralímpica, creo que estamos, una, dos, tres, cuatro. Somos cuatro deportistas paralímpicas madres. Solamente. Que vayamos a los Juegos.

 ((WN )) How many women total, then?

Teresa Perales : Puf, I don't know. It is very difficult, you know, to be a mother, train, compete, be at the stages, take care of the kid... sometimes it's a balancing act. Apart from the physical changes that take place when you become a mother. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Puf, no lo sé. Es que es muy dificil, eh, ser madre, compaginar los entrenamientos, las concentraciones, las competiciones, atender al niño... a veces es un ejercicio de malabares. Además de los cambios que hay físicos en la mujer cuando eres madre.

 ((WN )) Paralympics in some sports have many fewer women than men, especially skiing. Is that something that exists in swimming, and does it hurt the quality of sport? Because the men in the skiing are like, the women, they are so few of them, they embarrass us, is that something that exists on a swimming level?

Teresa Perales : Yes. But not only in Spain, in the whole world. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Sí. Pero no solo en España, en todo el mundo.

 ((WN )) People say that women don't swim as well as the men, because there's so few?

Teresa Perales : We are very few. In Spain we had a problem before the Games due to the number of spots given to the Spanish women swimmers, which were a third of those offered to the men. And we had female swimmers who made the qualifying time but could not go to the Games. And in Spain qualifiers are hard, there are two kinds: A minimum and B minimum. I'm talking about swimming, athletics... Especially swimming. B minimum is until the eighth position, A minimum is until the third. So, there we women who would have made the finals, and could not go. But this is not a recent problem, it's because of classification, at the World Championships... it's not only a problem in Spain. It's a problem that women do not participate as much as men. I really believe it is a family problem, a cultural problem, and it is a problem that comes from women traditionally doing more things than men and dedicating more time to their families than to training. A man doesn't have to stop to have a child, usually has more support for the house things, and yet however women don't. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ Nosotras somos muy pocas. En España tuvimos un problema antes de los Juegos por el número de plazas que se nos habían dado a las nadadoras españolas, que era una tercera parte de las plazas de los hombres, no llegaba. Y teníamos nadadoras que hicieron mímina y no pudieron ir a los Juegos. Y en España la clasificación es bastante dificil, hay dos clasificaciones: una es la mímina A y otra es la mínima B. Hablo de natación, atletismo... Sobre todo en natación. La mínima B es hasta el octavo puesto, la mínima A es hasta el tercer puesto. O sea, hubo gente que habría entrado en final, y que no pudo ir. Pero esto es un problema que viene de atrás, porque esto es por clasificación, en los Mundiales... que no es sólo un problema en España. Es un problema de que las mujeres no participan tanto como los hombres. Yo creo que de verdad es un problema de familias, es un problema cultural, y es un problema de que la mujer es la que tradicionalmente hace más cosas que los hombres y dedica más tiempo a su familia que a los entrenamientos. Un hombre no tiene que parar para tener un hijo, normalmente suele tener más apoyo para las cosas de la casa, y sin embargo la mujer no.

 ((WN )) In Australia they say, female sportswomen, fantastic, more medals! So they go for them. And that's not the case here?

Teresa Perales : No. Not men or women. Only the medals. So if there's a man who wins more medals, well, okay, the man. The problem is that this has to be potentiated before. It's like the people with high support needs. There are fewer participants with high support needs, because it is much easier to tend to people with lesser disabilities. It's like that. ((es))Spanish language: ‍ No. No es hombres o mujeres, si no medallas. Si un hombre gana más medallas, pues vale, el hombre. El problema es que esto hay que potenciarlo desde antes. Es como las clases bajas. Cada vez hay menos participantes de categorías bajas, porque es mucho más cómodo atender a una persona con menos discapacidad. Esto es así.

 ((WN )) You're really fascinating. It's a completely different perspective. Is there anything else people should know about Paralympics in Spain, or you?

Teresa Perales : Well, to be fair I should say that my case is special because I'm in Aragón, in Zaragoza, we're very few sportspeople with disabilities that make the Games. It's not the same a sportsperson who lives in a city with a High Performance Center, they have it better than me. ((es))Spanish language: ‍Bueno, también, para ser justa tendría que decir que mi caso es un caso especial porque estoy en Aragón, estoy en Zaragoza, somos muy pocos deportistas con discapacidad que llegamos a los Juegos. No es lo mismo un deportista que vive en una ciudad que tiene un Centro de Alto Rendimiento, tiene más facilidades que yo.

 ((WN )) I want to thank you a lot, thank you!

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