Herbert Aceituno: “The gold medal at Lima 2019 was my biggest achievement”

Salvadoran powerlifter recalls memorable performance at 2019 Parapan American Games 28 Nov 2019
a male powerlifter holds up his gold medal
Herbert Aceituno es pura alegría tras conquistar el oro Parapanamericano
ⒸLima 2019
By Herbert Aceituno | For World Para Powerlifting

I remember when the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games Lima 2019 were just a few days away and I was already very excited. I felt confident because I had trained very well with my coach and had full confidence in God that everything would go well. 

I had a clear objective in mind: to reach the podium. I was sure it was possible. Any medal would be welcome. 

My first lift, however, was null. Far from becoming demotivated, I remained calm. After that first round, Jorge Carinao from Chile was leading with 176kg. In other words, I had to break the Parapan American record to win!

Just before my second lift, when I was standing in front of the bar, many images came to my mind: of the hours of sacrifice and hard training, and of all my country that I had to represent with dignity. I was not alone; more than six million Salvadorans were raising that bar with me. That gave me the momentum I needed.

That's when I lifted 180kg, a new Games record and went on to take first place. With that mark I would have won already, but I lifted 2kg more in my last attempt. Thousands of images crossed my mind. I was filled with happiness.

My triumph was a demonstration that you can achieve your goals if you set out to do so; there is no barrier that cannot be overcome. That's what that gold medal meant to me. We brought back a Parapan American title to El Salvador after 20 years and broke a record. 

The celebrations back in my country were extraordinary. The mass media was waiting for my return. I had a very special family dinner and also celebrated with my coach, my teammates and the National Paralympic Committee.

The support of so many people I had never met moved me; it was very nice. The gold medal at Lima 2019 is undoubtedly my greatest sporting achievement. 

To crown it, I was chosen Best Male Athlete of Lima 2019 by the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC); a beautiful recognition for the entire El Salvador. Because, as I said before, it's not Herbert Aceituno alone, it's El Salvador as a whole that won.

Sport is about renewing yourself constantly. The happiness for this victory will last forever, but there are new competitions, new goals. I imagine myself competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. My ultimate dream is to win a medal there or at Paris 2024. I want to be an important part of the history of Para sports.