“Toñejo” Rodríguez, an example in Spanish motonautics

"I am the same, only sitting"tells EFE the Spanish athlete Antonio "Toñejo" Rodríguez González when he relates that he became a paraplegic more than 30 years ago in a motorcycling accident, but that did not prevent him from later becoming champion of Spain and runner-up in the world of motonautics.

Rodríguez received this Friday the official cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic in a ceremony at the residence of the Consul General of Spain in Miami, Jaime Lacadena.

During a recent visit to Miami by Queen Sofia, "Toñejo" He attended a reception on the Juan Sebastián de Elcano school ship and had the opportunity to be introduced to the mother of King Felipe VI, who, according to Efe, was interested in his story and asked him how he keeps himself in such good shape physical.

He is currently training as if he were going to participate in a Dakar, because his dream is to find a sponsor and drive a truck again in that tough test as he did in two previous editions.

In his sports career after 1990, the year he stopped "walk to start flying", "Toñejo" He has always competed as equals with athletes without disabilities, despite being paralyzed from the dorsal vertebrae to the feet.

Example of overcoming

And in his daily life, which has been set in Miami since 2010, he also wants his condition to limit him as little as possible.

He lives alone, he does all the household chores himself, he swims daily in the swimming pool of his building with no other help than his strength and dexterity to get out of the water and he drives his own car thanks to a manual control he designed with the help of a friend. And it costs only about $150.

In Spain they do not let him use it because it is not approved, something that makes him criticize officials "obtuse"one of the few complaints he makes in an interview in which Toñejo displays enthusiasm and gratitude at every turn.

"I am privileged"repeats throughout the interview when thanking his parents, now deceased, and his siblings, the doctors who have treated him and his "equipment" everything they have done to make their lives "extraordinary".

In Spain they don’t let you park your car in places reserved for the disabled either, because to do so you must put up a sign that they only give to residents of Spain.

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"Architectural barriers exist, but the biggest ones are put by people"points out this Spaniard born in Fernando Poo, today Malabo, in Equatorial Guinea, and with a Mexican driver’s license, because in Spain he could not get it.

A race without limits

"Toñejo" He began his sports career in motorcycling, going through motocross, quat and motorcycle racing.

On May 26, 1990, three kilometers from the finish line and in first position in the Quinto Centenario Motorcycle Raid, he suffered an accident in which, according to his words, "broke his back"in addition to suffering damage to the spleen, liver and other organs.

When he became paraplegic, an official entity in Madrid gave him money so that he could adapt his house to his new physical condition and he decided instead "adapt your life" and buy a jet ski.

Before long he was competing and winning championships.

In 1996, in one of those competitions, he had another accident, according to "the worst of his life"and almost lost a leg due to an infection in the wounds he suffered when he was hit by another jet ski.

The Royal Spanish Federation of Motonautics considers it "one of the most extraordinary pilots" of the history of this sport, with titles such as the champion of Spain and runner-up in the world, as highlighted in the ceremony in which the consul of Spain decorated him for his sporting and personal merits.

"Toñejo"who was the first Spaniard to race in Formula 1 motonautics, says that he has fulfilled all his dreams and remembers with special affection that the Miami Police let him drive a patrol vehicle all night.

The Miami authorities have distinguished him with the Golden Key and his declaration of "Distinguished Resident of the City" in recognition of his distinguished sports and journalistic work, since he is a correspondent for the Luike group, in one of whose sports magazines he writes a column entitled "Toñejo’s things".

In addition, it is part of the Motonautical Federation and gives conferences to members, pilots and clubs and is in charge of drafting and updating all regulations.

It collaborates closely with several non-profit foundations that promote the effective inclusion of people with disabilities in order to achieve a more equal society.

He is also a collaborator of the Spanish Cultural Center of Miami for the promotion of Spanish culture in the United States.

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