FERNANDO FERNANDES

HISTORIC


Modality

Multisport

Awards

GOLD MEDAL
South American Canoeing Championship

GOLD MEDAL
World Canoeing Championships

My career in Canoeing started at the Sarah Rehabilitation Center in Brasilia, where we used the sport in a playful way in the rehabilitation process. But when I found myself sitting in a kayak on Lake Paranoa, with the wind hitting my face and that incredible nature all around me, it gave me such a sense of FREEDOM, and more than that, I felt the sensation of CAPACITY again.

After some time I discovered that there would be a marathon of canoeing in the city and I went to inform myself with the organizer of the event, curious to know if a person with spinal cord injury, with paralysis in the legs, would be able to adapt the kayak to participate in the race. She was very solicitous and although she had never worked with disabled athletes, she invited me to go there a few days before the test to do some training and adaptations. And that's exactly what I did. I appeared there very early, full of will, and I met Daiana Nishimura, a person in love with this sport. We started looking for a kayak where we could row safely. We made an improvised seat with some pillows that I took and so I gave my first paddles.

December 11, 2009 was when I started my life in paracanoeing. I could hardly sleep from such anxiety. I had never paddled a distance of this and had no idea if I could complete the 12Km. In the middle of the competition I felt my hands fall asleep and my shoulders burn. The pain spread throughout my body, but after going through such a serious injury, I felt as if I had discovered the real power of the mind, and it was in that moment of intense pain that I decided that that sport would be my life.

From there I looked at the kayaking with due seriousness and went out looking for competitions that would happen in 2010. I discovered that in august the Canoeing World Champion in Poland would happen and I put it in my head that I would be there. I spent another four months in Brasília training and learning the techniques of canoeing with Diana Nishimura, and at the end of March I finally returned home, in São Paulo, where I met my coach and friend Paulo Barbosa, who immediately believed in my "madness."

I still did not have a kayak and, even with borrowed equipment, we began to improve my technique, until in may I received an invitation from Nelo, the largest kayak manufacturer in the world, to go to his headquarters in Portugal, so that tailor-made kayak to improve performance. Still with little experience, I went to La Plata to participate in the South American Championship of Canoeing. There I won the gold and, more importantly, the dreamed-up vacancy for the World Championship!

On 08/25/10, I took the plane in São Paulo towards Europe, city of Poznań, Poland. Arriving there I came across an unimaginable structure, a grandstand with about 7 thousand people and the biggest canoeists in the world. The first day I confess that I was a little scared, because it was cloudy and windy, but I decided to fall in the water to break that fear. I paddled for about 1 hour and in the afternoon I trained again.

And finally on 29/08/10 I was in the much-desired and desired World Championship Final. I entered the confident water, knowing that the challenge was much greater than the search for "Gold". It was a personal challenge to know how much I was still "CAPABLE". When the horn sounded I could only see the finish line and became the first Brazilian World Champion in history.

Today I take kayaking as a religion, as a way of life, and I thank God every day for putting SPORT in my life. Now my mission is to make this sport big in our country.

ATHLETES


Paola Klokler

I am from a traditional family and at the time of my birth were very strict and conservative; my grandparents could not accept the fact of having a granddaughter with disability, for them it was not normal. To help, my biological father decided to disappear...

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Gelson Junior

At 6 months of age, Gelson had poliomyelitis, which compromised his right leg. He says, however, that he always took good disability. The basketball even came half late in his life. Gelson only discovered the sport at age 22.

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