Tuesday, January 17, 2023
For Marta Fernandez, winning three medals at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 changed her life. Since then, she has become one of the top professional swimmers. But, far from feeling overwhelmed by the pressure, she worked with psychologists, because "it’s very important to learn how to manage emotions and events within the world of sport.” From the very first moment she wanted to "learn to manage the pressure of being the one with all the medals.” This athlete’s humility goes even further when she assures: "Results and medals don't depend solely on you."
The beginning of her career was not easy. A Burgos native, born in 1994, she lives with cerebral palsy, but her persevering spirit is what led her to the podium, and she gained public recognition for her tenacity and energy. In reality, she confesses that her parents forced her to go swimming. "I was terrified of water, but they knew it was the best rehab for me." Now, water is her natural environment, and she assures that "it started off as my biggest fear, but it has become my greatest passion, because it’s where I feel free and I don't notice the progress of my disease as much.”
Although Marta has gained much public recognition for her efforts in overcoming the disease, the swimmer never forgets all the people who made it possible for her to reach the podium. "From my family, my coach, and my teammates to the medical service, physiotherapists, and the rest of the Spanish delegation."
Perhaps this fighting and humble character that Marta displays in her sports career has a lot to do with her fierce defense of the environment. She’s one of the many Spanish sportswomen who have decided to support the Libera project, which began in 2017 with the aim of "raising awareness and advocating for citizens to stop leaving garbage and waste in nature.”
Libera was created by the NGO SEO/BirdLife in alliance with Ecoembes, and it mainly focuses on "awareness, prevention, and participation to achieve an environment free of garbage that helps the natural ecosystem flourish." Marta is aware of how necessary it is to "take care of the planet so that we can leave it in the best condition possible for future generations." For this reason, as soon as she became aware of the existence of this much-needed project through the Spanish Federation and the Spanish Sports Association (ADESP), she decided to get involved.
Regarding the state of the natural environment, at the global level, there is a certain degree of pessimism throughout society that leads to a simple acceptance of the worsening environmental situation. Marta acknowledges this, but also believes that "every day there are many more people getting involved in caring for the environment, trying to encourage sustainable habits among citizens, and promoting initiatives to care for the natural environment." This is what drives her to give a voice to these people and support their projects so that they can reach more people. And she does so, along with other athletes from various sports, because she is sure that sports and "the resolve, responsibility, and respect inherent to them can be used in giving voice to environmental issues.”
Despite winning three medals at the Paralympic Games, Marta continues to dream not only of professional success, but also of being able to "reach the population through sports, especially children and teenagers, trying to convey to them that each of us is capable of changing the world." A dream that she takes on as a challenge, because "we can achieve our dreams through hard work and, at the same time, manage to take care of the planet through different efforts."
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