the unseen champion

As usual in her, almost routine, Andrea Miguélez crossed the finish line in first position. In the Europeans in Madrid, last Saturday, the local paratriathlete (Valdemoro, 2003) was continental champion… for an hour. Then, when he could go looking for a place in his house to place his third gold in the Old Continent, the drama came. After finishing almost six minutes ahead of the second classified, Marta Francés, she received some difficult news to digest: Andrea passed from being gold in category PTS4 to 5th in PTS5 (minimum degree of disability). “It was a very hard blow. I was running at home and the adrenaline pushed me to a level that I did not expect, ”she recalls in a conversation with AS.

Paralympic athletes pass exams from time to time (when there are important competitions nearby, such as the Games, they intensify) to determine their competition category according to the degree of disability. On Saturday, before starting his participation in the Europeans, Andrea passed one of these controls. The initial result was as expected: PTS4 category (moderate disabilities). After observing her performance (the process also contemplates an observation in competition to ratify the previous results), however, she was reclassified to PTS5. “First, I left happy, because they told me that a reclassification would not happen again until after the Games, in 2025. When it was over, however, they called me to talk to them and I found out what had happened. I wait for answers, but I continue with the same news. I hope something changes, but I’m already training for what’s new, ”she explains in a subdued voice, but with the strength to look forward no matter what.

Andrea suffers from paraesthesia in her left hand (she doesn’t feel it) and, in addition, her legs swell and her feet are hot. They are your current symptoms, although there is much to investigate in cases like yours. “My disease is invisible, because you see me and it seems that I have nothing. I am young and they have not told me about the future, we have to see what happens ”, she explains. At the age of six, she underwent surgery for a malformation in the cerebellum, a consequence of the rare disease Arnold-Chiari. During a nap, his parents saw that he was not breathing well: he repeatedly breathed in twice and stayed for 12 seconds without doing so. “Normally, we have four or five apneas when we sleep, but I had about 360, a lot,” he recalls. After going through the operating room, he came out “like a baby”: without knowing how to walk or make any kind of simple movement. Little by little, through dancing and swimming, he was recovering mobility to his current situation. She did not debut as a paratriathlete until 2021. Now, she has already been a two-time world champion.

Full support of the Federation

In the Europeans, his category was modified due to his performance on the bike (he has adapted it to control everything with his right hand), his weakest segment so far. His whole family is athlete. In the afternoons, they train together. Now that Andrea has finished her first studies (nursing assistant, although she will start imaging technician in September), even more so. “We are not a family that goes out on Sundays by bike to spend the day. We went out to train. The most professional is me, but the four of us take it very seriously, ”she says. Especially her father, who is part of the croup of Alberto counter. He is the person behind his progress on two wheels. “I’ve been doing it since I was 10 years old and I’ve improved a lot. If you watch a video of me from four or five years ago, I look much clumsier. This progress, however, has turned out to be inconvenient now…”, she laments.

The change of category supposes an added difficulty on the way to the Paris Games, his great objective. She was a firm candidate for medals. Now she has to start over. “To enter the tests, I need a ranking and now I only have 5th place in this European Championship. I have to go to all possible competitions. She was 4th in the world and now 12th. Normally, the first 9 go to the races ”, she explains. She will train to compete in PTS5, but she will continue to claim to be able to return to PTS4. For this, she has the full support of the Spanish Triathlon Federation (FETRI). From the agency, they assure AS that a claim was filed, but it was dismissed. In it, it was alleged that the ranking panel was conducted under exceptional circumstances. (in the Europeans it was not possible to swim for health reasons). Now, with the help of the Spanish Paralympic Committee (CPE), it will go international, but it may take months for a final resolution. Meanwhile, Andrea will continue to be a champion.

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