Women & Sports: Catarina Guimaraes, Athletics
We put a call out for some inspiring women to take part in our Women and Sports interviews and received the following letter from 15 year-old athlete and author Catarina Guimaraes. We felt her letter was perfect and wanted to publish (with her permission) as it.
So here it is...
Can a bird still fly if it is missing feathers? If it truly desires to do so, the bird can soar.
My name is Catarina, however most people call me Cat, I am a 15 year old athlete with cerebral palsy. Having Cerebral palsy affects the way my brain communicates with my nerves and muscles.
When I was about 9 years old I competed in adaptive rock climbing with peak potential. We ended up flying to Georgia to compete nationally and I won third place. When the climbing team broke away, my parents found an adaptive sports team called the north jersey navigators.
While being with this team was great and I loved competing in track and field and swimming nationally, I felt a sort of rift between my fellow teammates and I. It was as if I didn't quite belong in the adaptive world because I appeared to be so physically normal, although, what even is normal these days.
Even though I didn't feel quite like an adaptive athlete, when it came to school, I didn't feel able-bodied either. I was always a step or two behind the other kids, regardless of how hard I tried and how much I worked.
I've always had this stuck in the middle feeling, however I have recently been feeling it less. I always tried so hard to cover up my disability, and pretend to be, for lack of better words, normal, but I am not normal.
While struggling with these conflictions I found an outlet, writing. I have started writing a few books and have recently published a book called black rose.
Recently I have embraced my disability as a part of myself, and allowed it to come forth in simple actions. I have noticed that in track, by attempting to cover up the cerebral palsy that was in my arm, I was twisting my body in a way that slowed me down, but I have begun to let my left arm bend a little bit, which allows for a more straight run instead of being twisty turvy.
Although I have begun to embrace my disability as who I am as an athlete, I still have many challenges in my day.
For one, I get up at 5 in the morning every single school day so that I can stretch and get my workouts in before the start of school, if I don't then it becomes difficult to continue on my day without raising my heel and it is also painful to go up the stairs of my school when I have not stretched in the morning.
As an athlete I have competed with team USA in ireland for the international wheelchair and ambulatory sports games, winning silver in the 400 and the long jump. I train with my high school and with the north jersey navigators at least 6 days a week for track. At the end of march, 2019, I will be going to ireland once more to be the only girl on team USA competing for cerebral palsy soccer.
With the north jersey navigators I gained the opportunity to go to nationals, and now hold all of the national records for my classification in the 100, 200, 400, 800, long jump, shot put, discus, and javelin events.
I have a long way to go as far as being a professional athlete, however with training I hope to one day go to the paralympics.
Can't wait to see you at the paralympics Cat!