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Tokyo Paralympic Games: Teresa Perales, the Spanish swimmer with 26 medals

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Teresa Perales is the most successful sportswoman in Spain. She is currently competing in her sixth Paralympic Games. She enters the contest this August 26 with the 100 meters freestyle.

At the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Spain has its eyes riveted on its champion: swimmer Teresa Perales, is the most medal-winning athlete in the country. At 46, she competed in her sixth Games.

In a basin of the Sierra Nevada, the sportswoman multiplied the last lengths before leaving for Japan. “We went without a swimming pool for a long time. Then, to make up for lost time, we had to start training very intensively. Then I got injured. These are difficult years, but that makes the Tokyo Games even more unique. “, she tells France 24.

“I have more experiences”

The Spaniard has already won 26 Olympic medals, just two short of Michael Phelps. A track record that she has accumulated since her first games in 2000 in Sydney: “I have been part of the Spanish selection for 23 years. It gives me a lot of experience. I compete with young girls of 20, 22 years. They have a lot more physical strength, but I have more experience “.

Each year, she spends three months training in this center. Located at 2300 meters above sea level, it optimizes performance. For the director, the swimmer is a role model. “To be able to fight with so much force over the years. It inspires me a great admiration”, describes Alfonso Sanchéz Bernard, the director of the Centro de Alto Rendimiento de la Sierra Nevada

“When a train passes in your life, you have to take it”

This rage to win, Teresa Perales has had since she was 19 years old. At this age, she develops neuropathy and loses the use of her legs. “That summer, my whole family was in the water and I thought I was going to give it a try. My mom then thought about buying me a life jacket and that’s how I did my first breaststroke. “, she recalls.

A year after her debut in swimming, Teresa Perales started competing. She finds her reason for living there: “The wheelchair does not determine you. It has never stopped me. I have been in the desert. I have taken part in a rally. I thank all the opportunities that presented themselves. When a train passes in your life, you have to take it “.

At 46, the champion does not plan to retire. Further away than Tokyo, it even wants to participate in the Paralympic Games in Paris, in 2024.

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