On your marks!
I was born on 22 August 1981 in Olot (Girona). As I recall, and as my family confirms, I spent my childhood playing in football matches, coming and going on my bicycle and skateboard and occasionally making mischief. What was most important was not staying still for a second and spending as much time as possible outdoors.
The Sant Roc school is where I began my physical education, or what they called “gymnastics” at that time, and I remember that what fascinated me most was everything related with physical effort in general and football in particular.
My neighbourhood football club (Sant Roc Football Club) gave me my first experience with competition and with team sports when I became part of the juvenile indoor football team. Later, I moved on to 11-player football for children.
Although my parents noticed that I had vision problems shortly after I was born, I was completely oblivious to the fact and continued to participate in all kinds of activities alongside my friends. “Retinitis pigmentosa” was the diagnosis of several ophthalmologists who visited me, which seemed to be a condition that could be degenerative and genetic in origin, a disease about which I received much more information when, thanks to my basic general education tutor, we contacted the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind (ONCE).
After joining ONCE and becoming more aware of my disease, and thanks to the support of my parents, family members and especially my friends, I followed the normal routine of a 14-year-old boy, experiencing all the joys and difficulties of adolescence. ONCE provided me with a supporting teacher and I now recognise all their help, even if I saw it more as an obstacle at the time. Carme Ayats informed me and my parents of all the services that ONCE offered, including a wide range of job placement studies and activities, though it felt like I had no choice but to stick to my passion: sports!
At the age of 16, I had finished my compulsory secondary education and obtained a medium-level qualification in Administrative Management from IES Bosc de la Coma when, with my parents’ support, I made one of the decisions that would have the greatest influence on my future. It wasn’t easy, but once again we all managed the situation with an enthusiastic outlook. Due to a great loss of sight, my next destination would be the big city; specifically, ONCE’s Joan Amades Educational Resource Centre in Barcelona, where – as strange as it may seem – I had to get used to dealing with blind and visually impaired people because, up to that moment, the only person I knew with these characteristics was myself.
The month and a half that I spent in residence was very productive because I learned Braille and delved into the world of tiflotechnology, a set of devices and computer adaptations for the blind and visually impaired. The other thing I did during my time at the centre was get in contact with Antonio Blanco (one of the physical education teachers) with a clear idea in mind: to do athletics! After losing my sight, playing football wasn’t as attractive any more; however, the image of Carl Lewis jumping and running in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games continued to grow in my mind.
Antonio Blanco introduced me to Miguel Ángel Torralba (my current coach) and after ending my month-and-a-half stay, I spent a year moving back and forth between Olot and Barcelona, continuing my education and doing athletics training at the same time. In 1998, I moved to a student flat in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, near lifelong friends, where I completed a telephony and marketing course at Joan Amades. This allowed me to devote myself more fully to my hobby, and with great results, as I participated in my first international championship!
Because of my reduced vision, someone essential for doing athletics came into my life: Sergio Segón, my first guide. With him, I attended the European Championships in Lisbon in 1999, and a fourth-place showing in the 100-metre dash boosted my desire to continue competing and to beat my own best records in the 100m as well as the long jump and triple jump. Antonio Delgado was my guide from 2000 to 2004, and with his help I participated in my first Paralympic Games in Athens. Later, Raül Sabaté served as my eyes on the track, and with him I was able to prepare for all competitions until 2008, including the Beijing Olympic Games, where I won my first Paralympic medal.
The race continues!
Today, with the help of my current guide, Enric Martín, and my coach, Miguel Ángel Torralba, my dream remains as intact as ever. I face each training session, each challenge and each championship with the same desire and passion as when I laced up my trainers for the first time.
I currently combine my work as a telephone operator at the ”la Caixa” Central Services call centre with my training: six days per week at an average of three hours per day in the facilities of the Hospitalet Nord sports complex, the Blume residence, the CAR in Sant Cugat and the occasional weekend in Els Tossols Athletic Park in Olot.
During the 2005-2006 season, I signed up with the athletics section of FC Barcelona and have been wearing Barça’s colours ever since. I appear in Spain’s Official State Gazette (BOE) as a high-level athlete, I form part of the ADOP plan, managed by the Spanish Paralympic Committee, and I am also considered a High Performing Catalan (ARC) athlete by the Government of Catalonia.
I would like to first thank my parents and siblings, as well as my closest friends for the support that they give me from day to day, but especially all the support they have given me in the past, because without their help I never would have been able to get to where I am today. And I cannot forget my children Egara and Marc who are my main motivation for training and participating in competitions.