Eliezer Gabriel Buenaventura has gone from one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Veracruz, Mexico, to being able to build a house for his family. Thanks to a gold medal win at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
The 18-year-old’s family could not afford to buy him clothes or shoes. As a child he sometimes had to walk barefoot. But Buenaventura was not discouraged, yet inspired. All due to his mother Susana’s every day hard work to bring food to the table. And even when he was living in a small room with his mother and brother in Veracruz, Buenaventura never stopped dreaming.
In 2015, he took part in a training camp funded by the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And went on to claim gold in the javelin F46 at Toronto 2015.
“After my first two attempts, I was in fourth place, Buenaventura said. “But then I threw 47.67m, set a new Games record and knew that I would almost surely be the champion. Celebrating with my family and friends was just crazy.
“Taking part in the Agitos Foundation training camp helped me improve as an athlete in my preparations for the Parapan Ams and introduced me to people with impairment and the same interests as I.”
Over the last 18 months, 155 athletes, coaches and classifiers from 23 countries, including Buenaventura, have benefitted from expert training provided during the Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundation Sessions. Organised in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and Brazilian Paralympic Committee, the sessions aimed to improve coaching and Para sport standards as part of the legacy of Latin America’s first Paralympic Games.
With Toronto 2015’s prize money, he started building a house for his family and now has access to basic necessities.
“I admire my mum so much because it is thanks to her that my brother Juan Jose and I could have three meals a day when we were little,” said Buenaventura, who has a congenital limb impairment in his left arm.
“She devoted her life to us and I will always be thankful to her.”
Buenaventura took up athletics at eight years old when he met coach Emmanuel Campos. Campos asked him if he wanted to join his Para sport training programme.
“I have always liked sports and said yes to him immediately,” he said.
Having an impairment was never a stumbling block for Buenaventura. He says he can do what any other person of his age can.
“I do not consider myself different because of my disability, but just like anyone else,” he said.
“Yes, I suffered from people’s intolerance sometimes, but that has never brought me down. I have always tried to avoid fights.”
Whilst he prepares for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Buenaventura targets further success.
“I want to climb onto the podium in Rio,” he said.
“With the support of the Agitos Foundation, I dream of making history in my sport.”
Life as an athlete: https://youtu.be/IFer8Fs04w4