Desiree Vila reinvents herself

Spanish former gymnast makes Para athletics Worlds debut at Dubai 2019 02 Jan 2020
Spaniard athlete Desiree Vila looking ahead
Spanish athlete Desiree Vila
ⒸDesiree Vila
By Paloma Gutiérrez | For World Para Athletics

Desiree Vila was training for the 2015 European Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships when an injury changed her sporting career; and her life.

Four years later, the Spaniard made her World Para Athletics Championships debut in Dubai, UAE, finishing eighth in the women's long jump T63 and ninth in the 100m.

“I used to be a gymnast; my amputation was actually consequence of a sports injury while training. I was already an elite athlete who had discipline, trained every day and was perseverant," she recalled. 

“Athletics and gymnastics are not similar, but I got the experience before. I am really happy to reinvent myself in sports and continue practising at a high level."


Vila fractured a tibia on 26 February 2015, a day she will remember forever. She admits that, between legal proceedings due to medical negligence and psychological therapy, she encountered a phrase that she made her mantra: 'the only incurable thing is the desire to live'.

“I made myself a tattoo with that phrase, it is the title of my book and I also have it written in my prosthesis," she explained.

"I heard it at the hospital when I knew about the amputation, when everything was dark for me. Now I like to remember it and say ‘I have lived all this process, it has been hard, but here I am, doing what I love the most, doing sport.'”  


Villa wants to raise awareness about disability and the benefits of sport, which is why she created a YouTube Channel where she shares her life as an athlete, a student and a person with a disability.

“At the beginning, the goal was to show how is my daily routine. The routine of a person with a disability who practices sport, goes to university and has a normal life,” said Vila, whose channel has over 50,000 subscribers.

“Other amputees who don’t practice sports and watch my videos can be influenced by and maybe start practising. The goal is to show disability, Para sports and help people who are in the same situation as me.”