At Rio 2016, Uruguay will be represented in the Para equestrian dressage competition for the first time in the country’s Paralympic history. Alfonsina Maldonado, who missed qualification for London 2012 by just two points, will hold that honour.
Paralympic.org: How did you get into your sport?
Alfonsina Maldonado (AM): I came to the sport through a dream that began to grow in me after my accident. When I was six months old the room where I slept caught fire and I lost my left hand. All my life has been walking toward this dream. It’s been a long journey where I had to give up everything, take my bags and leave my country. But here I am!
What does it mean to you personally to represent Uruguay at an event like the Paralympic Games?
AM: Representing Uruguay, a small country like mine in the Paralympics is such a great pride that I cannot put into words. It has always been my dream, and it was time.
What would it mean to you personally if you won a gold medal in Rio?
AM: I have dreamed of that moment a thousand times and I cry tears just imagining it. It would be a gift for my country and my late grandfather, who has had a lot to do with the path I am on.
If you had to pick five words to describe yourself what would they be?
AM: They would describe my tenacity, and my struggle every day.
Who do you see as your biggest rivals in Rio?
AM:I don’t see them as rivals. We all go with the desire to represent our country.
Do you have any superstitions or routines which you go through when competing?
AM: Before entering the arena I breathe and speak to my grandfather, quietly. Then I look at my coach to see if I'm good.
What advice would you give any riders starting out in your sport?
AM: I’d tell them to dream big. The road is very long and the obstacles are learning. Tears and disappointments are part of it but you get up and continue.
If you could pick one thing about your sport what do you most enjoy?
AM: Sharing each day with my champion horse...
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or not, who would that be?
AM: All my family and the people I love most.
Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
AM: My biggest inspiration is my grandfather every day.
Para equestrian competition at Rio 2016 begins 11 September, with medal events taking place 13-16 September, at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on theCoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.