Teresa Perales: Wife, Mother, Friend and AthleteAs Spain’s three-time Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales vies to be selected for London, she describes balancing her sporting career and personal life in her first blog. 07 Mar 2012
“While you are an athlete, you expend so much effort and dreams on your sporting career, so your personal life goes into second or third place.”
Before starting to write this blog, I think it may be interesting for you to know who is going to write it. My name is Teresa Perales, and I am a Spanish Paralympic swimmer. I have participated in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, so London 2012 will be my fourth Paralympic Games, which means so much more to me now, after not competing for almost two years because of the birth of my son.
I don’t know if it happens to many athletes or not, but for me, each Paralympics has not only marked a stage in my sporting career, but it has also been the start of a new phase in my personal life. After Sydney, I met the man who is now my husband, after Athens we got married and after Beijing we had our baby who will be 2 years old by the end of this month. What will happen after London is still a mystery, even for me.
I suppose that all of this may happen because while you are an athlete, you expend so much effort and dreams on your sporting career, so your personal life goes into second or third place. And until you have achieved your sporting goal, you can’t dedicate 100 per cent to your personal life. And if you have to combine training with work, it is even worse.
For many years I have spent my out-of-work free time doing training, and because of that I couldn’t spend enough time with my family or friends. And this is very hard to go through, because it is difficult to understand if you are not an athlete or someone closely related to elite sport.
I think that the key is to spend quality time with family and friends, but this is not always possible if you are exhausted. For example, I remember one day that I went to watch a movie in the cinema with my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law, and I fell asleep before the end of the initial credits. I had trained 6 hours and worked 8 hours that day.
But this is not everything. What happens with the competitions and training with the national team? Well, what happens is that you must leave your home, and your relatives don’t see you for a long time.
My husband and I have always had to plan our vacation depending on when I had a big competition (European, World or Paralympic Games). Sometimes we have even had to cancel them because I needed my vacation for commitments with my national team, and I didn’t have enough days for holidays and competition. Thank God, my husband understands and supports me. But now, I have to say that it is much harder than before.
Well, my goal is very important, I want to go to London and win some medals, and I hope that all the effort that my family and I are making is worthwhile.
The nationals are this weekend on 10 and 11 March in Castellon (Valencia), and they are our selection trials for London, so I hope I can qualify for the Games there.