Mexico’s David Yerves knows his students will be watching him closely at the 2019 World Para Dance Sport Championships, which kicks off Friday (29 November) in Bonn, Germany.
He wants to win a medal at the 2019 World Championships. It does not matter that at the last edition two years ago he had a best finish of 10th in combi Latin 2.
He is used to dealing with the odds as an education advisor for pupils with a disability at a school in Cancun, he tells his students “You just have to believe.”
“You must always have clear goals and one of my goals is to be able to bring a world medal to my country,” he said.
Yerves has been fighting for his dreams for as long as he can remember. A former chemical engineer, he has been passionate about folk dancing since he was a child. After losing the use of his legs in an accident, it felt natural to turn back to something he knew so well.
“In rehabilitation one of the therapists told me there was a wheelchair dance group,” he said. “And it was this way I discovered this beautiful sport of Para dance.”
Battling to be the best
A born competitor, Yerves found his way onto the international scene. But it was a straightforward path to follow for a man on a wheelchair in Mexico.
“The life of a sports dancer is not easy here,” he said. “I cannot say there is no support because there is, it’s just the detail, the bureaucratic process that needs to be done to obtain it and cover the requirements they ask for.
“The ones who always end up supporting us are family and friends. It is thanks to them that we are attending this event. They are very happy that I follow my life despite my disability and that I dance, because they always knew me as a good dancer.”
Yerves is particularly grateful to his mother – a “great woman” – for driving him forward, reassuring him that he would have a great life and encouraging him to live it to the fullest, – a mantra that is serving the dancer well.
Earlier this year, he travelled to Lomianki for the Polish Open and finished an encouraging fourth in singles class 2 and third in singles freestyle 2.
“I am a disciplined, dedicated and determined person,” Yerves said. “Being on a dance floor representing your country is thanks to all the effort and dedication you have put into your training.
“I workout three times a week for three hours per day dancing and three times a week I go to the gym for two hours of physical conditioning.”
Moving like Cocchi
Yerves made his Worlds debut in 2017 in Malle, and the experience is what motivates him.
“It was sensational,” he said of the 2017 World Championships. “Knowing that you are one of those selected to represent your country is one of the best things that has happened to me. It is one of the experiences I will never forget, that the public are recognising you as one of the best in the world.”
Now he has a chance to do it all again, and he can barely contain the excitement. All he has to do is go out and dance like his hero, Riccardo Cocchi.
“I love his way of dancing, his expressions,” Yerves said of the man who has won 10 Latin dance world titles with his partner Yulia Zagoruycheko. “To dance with them would be sensational.”
The Bonn 2019 World Para Dance Sport Championships run until 1 December, and more information can be found on the event website.