Not just paralympic athletes: Oney Tapia

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Oney Tapia exulting. On background an italian flag.

After the interview with the speedster Arjola Dedaj, we had the pleasure to have a talk with her teammate Oney Tapia too.
Oney Tapia was born in La Habana (Cuba), on February 27, 1976 and now lives in Sotto Monte, in the province of Bergamo.
He is an eternal optimist and loves enjoying every good thing in life. He likes hiking in the mountains and nearly anything can’t let him down, because he lives every day with passion.
5 years ago he lost his eyesight permanently due to an accident.
Demoralized at first, Oney then decided not to let go and, thanks to his passion for sports, his climb into Paralympic sports began. He first became interested in athletics in 2013, coincidentally, becoming a thrower who specializes in discus and weight and Italian record holder.

But what were Oney’s hopes and dreams and what results did he achieve thanks to sports? The following are a few questions we asked him:

1)  As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? What was your dream?

When you’re a kid you’re full of dreams. I used to see, so my dreams were kind of “normal” dreams, I wanted to become an adult, be healthy, do sports, I mean just those simple things. My life was different before I went blind, I had different priorities.

2) Who was your mentor?

My mother. Mum’s always been a firm, strict and determined woman. She has been the example I wanted to follow and now everything I am is because of her. She raised me well and everything she’s taught me helped me to get through in life.

3) What is more important, ambition or talent?

It’s talent that matters. Ambition is a feeling, I am speaking for myself, of course. Talent is something you’re born with, and deciding whether to develop it or not it’s up to you, if you lack ambition talent doesn’t emerge.
But it also depends on how much self-esteem  you have. Maybe there could also be people whose goodwill is so high they manage to reach all their goals, and if those people are talented too… then so be it!

4) What does sport mean to you?

Sport is everything to me: love, freedom, happiness, wellness, glee and joy.
Each of my training session lasts 8 hours, therefore sport is also my job. Anyway, passion always comes first, it’s not a burden to me, it’s not like a normal job and I don’t look at it as an obligation.
My kids can also learn from what I do, because they see that I never stop, I never give up despite the fact that I’m blind.
Seeing their father in action is surely an example to them. Life is full of surprises and you should not throw away what life gives to you. We should always take the good aspects of things, even if what happens to us is something bad.

5) What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you during a competition?

Nothing, up to the present, but if something weird happens I will gladly accept it! Sometimes we think things are weird because we are unable to understand them.

6) What is your greatest accomplishment in life so far?

Going blind! Because I’ve won a bronze medal thanks to my blindness, otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here today. I took only the good from what happened to me and today I can proudly say I am a Paralympic athlete.

7) Tell me about your biggest let-down

I’ve never really had such big let-downs. I am just worried about not being able to express and pass down my feelings and beliefs. I am afraid people won’t understand my message.

8) What kind of cellphone do you use? What are your favorite apps?

I’ve got an iPhone 6, but I only now began to use it, I’m not pretty handy with technology. I use VoiceOver and Siri a lot, I ask them how to call my friends, write texts, searching for music I like and soccer scores.

9) What technology helps you the most in your everyday life?

My smartphone is really helpful!
Nowadays smartphones can be really useful, I hope technology will evolve more to help increasing the disabled’s autonomy. For instance, if chores like washing the dishes and doing laundry were operated by a software people like me would achieve an extraordinary level of autonomy.

10) Do you use any apps to monitor your performance during sport?

I’m a little clumsy when it comes to use my iPhone. I use it just for basic things. I know there are apps like that, however, I don’t use them.

11) What do you expect from your participation in the Paralympics in Rio?

I only expect to feel good, we are going through a life journey and that’s the greatest thing. Thanks to this “adventure” something will remain treasured inside our hearts, no matter if we win or lose. The be there is the real thing. If victory will follow, so much the better, but they will only be the icing on the cake.

On Tuesday, Oney competed in his first weight throwing competition, with a toss of 12.72 meters. Unfortunately, he did not qualified for the final.
On Monday, instead, in the discus throwing competition he made an impressive throw of 40.89 meters, securing the silver medal!

We congratulate him on the results obtained and we wish him a pleasant stay in Rio!

Oney and Arjola talking to each other

Source: Oney Tapia’s Facebook profile

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Sofia Zuccalà
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Sofia Zuccalà

I'm a 23 years old MSc student in Communication of Science and Sustainable Innovation and I am a communication lover. I have a BSc in Communication, Innovation and Multimedia and at the moment I'm writing for several blogs about technology, science and current news.
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