The bats: "We work every day to get to this"

“We work every day to get there,” he says. Maximiliano Espinillo, winner of the silver medal with Los Murcielagos and standard-bearer at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games. But he does not speak exclusively of the training sessions at CeNARD that served the selected football 5 for the blind in preparation for Tokyo 2020.

In its Native cordoba, long before donning the Argentine jersey and becoming the top scorer of the tournament in the Japanese capital, Espinillo worked as a street vendor in public transport. That was also what their parents did. As a child, every morning he left his house in Villa El Nylon, got on the bus and offered sweets.

I come from a humble family. I had a beautiful childhood but we didn’t have enough clothes. He needed money to buy loot to play. Soccer was always my passion. He saved my life and fulfilled my dreams”Acknowledges the 27-year-old forward, a nightmare for the rivals of the team led by Martín Demonte at the Aomi Urban Sports Park.

The seven goals from Espinillo served for Los Murcielagos to hang the silver medal as in Athens 2004. First they were two in 2-1 to Morocco, two in 2-0 to Spain and one in 3-0 to Thailand, to win the group. Then he made the two in the 2-0 to China in the semi. In the final, although it generated danger and forced the archer to fly, it was not given. Brazil won 1-0 in the classic to take over the gold.

Maxi you have not seen since the age of 4 as a result of a retinal detachment caused by a virus. Sport became a fundamental activity and he discovered a reason for joy in football: “My father played in Córdoba. My brother is also blind, he started in a team and I always accompanied him. At 13 they started training more seriously ”.

Obviously in the El Nylon paddock he didn’t play with a rattle ball like the one he uses now. With their cousins ​​they took one, put it in a bag and added stones to make it make noise. The elementary school at the Helen Keller Institute gave her weapons to defend herself in a society unfriendly to people with disabilities. And he spent the whole day with a ball.

After his beginnings in the Cordovan Union for the Blind (UCORCI), he attracted attention with the Medea shirt and three years ago he joined Los Búhos, a team from Santa Fe. “I joined the National Team in 2013 and in 2014 I played the World Cup, the dream of every footballer when it begins“, remember. That tournament was held in Tokyo and Argentina also came second, losing to Brazil in supplementary.

Then came so many celebrations with the Argentine jersey that he cannot assure the exact number. “I don’t know how many goals I have. No idea. I would like to know, but I put a lot in and lost count“, Explain. He does have the most important in his head: “The penalty against China for the bronze medal in Rio 2016 and another penalty against Brazil in the final of the Copa América 2017”.

The Bats sport the Tokyo 2020 silver medal.

What makes you score a goal? “It means making specific not only my effort, but also that of my teammates, the defenders who make a clear and the flyers who give me a pass.. I kick with the conviction that the play will end in a goal. Sometimes it is clear to me as soon as I hit him. There is a lot of sacrifice and it is a great satisfaction”, He admits.

During the Games They compared him to Lionel Messi for his ability. However, he names references in his position and leans towards powerful forwards. “I admire Cristiano Ronaldo, a great scorer, athlete and complete. From Argentines I like Kun Agüero, Pipa Benedetto and Wanchope Ábila ”, defines the man who confesses himself a fan of both the Institute and Boca.

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Espinillo was also noticed in Tokyo for the different colors in his hair. He had it red, blue, purple and brown. On the shirt, nothing like the Argentine colors, light blue and white: “I am very proud to belong to this Selection. For everything it generates, for its past and for its present. Also for what it will continue to be in the future ”.

Paralympic harvest

To the medal in Soccer 5 was added five in athletics, two in swimming and one in taekwondo, so that the Argentine delegation of 57 athletes returns from Japan with nine in total. There was no gold but that amount had not been given since Atlanta 1996. And it reflects a great advance compared to the five accumulated in Rio 2016 with 82 representatives.

On Athletics, the rionegrino Hernán Urra he was able to repeat Rio’s silver medal in the F35 shot put with his last attempt, the best mark of his life and a new continental record. The second silver was starring to Rosario Brian Impellizzeri (T37), who confirmed his record in the long jump and was second with his best time.

The first silver in the pool was that of Pipo Charlemagne. The Rosario celebrated in the 100 meters backstroke S7, marking a milestone for Argentine swimming, which did not reach the podium since London 2012 and did not celebrate a silver medal since Athens 2004. In The last day of Mar del Plata, Matías De Andrade shone in the 100 backstroke S6, after prevailing in the qualifying series and achieving second place in the final.

The harvest was opened thanks to the athlete from Entre Ríos Antonella Ruiz Díaz (F41), who competed in the shot put and won the bronze medal, with his best record. Other bronze arrived with Yanina Martínez, who once again excelled in the T36 category and took the podium in the 200 meters, after the disqualification of the German Nicoleitzik. The Rosario had contributed the only gold in Rio with her victory in the 100. This time, in that test she finished fourth and was three hundredths behind the bronze.

There was a third bronze in athletics with Alexis Chávez in the 100 meters T36. The 19-year-old from Parchment was within two hundredths of the silver. He had already shown his conditions in the 400 by coming fourth with a continental record. More suffered Juan Samorano, the only representative in taekwondo, who beat Kazakh Dombayev at the end and took the bronze at the premiere at the Games. The 39-year-old man who lives in Merlo knew how to react with a kick against the two-time world champion of the K44 category up to 75 kilos.

At balance also left good performances that for a very little did not translate into medals. Iñaki Basiloff, from Neuquén, who is 20 years old and nothing in the S7 category, obtained fourth place in two tests. In the water, the Chaco Daniela Giménez also showed off, in her fourth Games, reaching two finals and fulfilling her best performance: fourth in the 100 SB9 chest.

The from Cordoba Gustavo Fernández He had started as one of the candidates in adapted tennis, but lost in the quarterfinals of the singles and again left without the medal he dreamed of. He immediately put his focus on Paris 2024 like all Paralympic athletes. The Tokyo 2020 Games are history. You have to keep working.


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