Spanish Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales has become the first athlete with an impairment to obtain the prestigious Premio Leyenda (Legend Award), joining sports great such as Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Maradona, Cruyff, Pau Gasol and Rafa Nadal.
The director of the newspaper "Marca" Oscar Campillo, gave Perales the award on 7 October in Madrid, Spain.
In an emotional ceremony at the Espacio Fundación Telefónica Auditorium and presented by journalist Almudena Rivera, the six-time Paralympic champion picked up the award and received support through videos from National Basketball Association basketball star Gasol and fellow Paralympic teammates Xavi Torres, David Casinos, Ricardo Ten and Maria Delgado.
Miguel Carballeda, President of the Spanish Paralympic Committee, also gave a heartfelt speech in, which he highlighted Perales’ qualities as both an athlete and person. He also took the opportunity to highlight some situations which Spanish Paralympic athletes remain unequal with regard to the Olympics.
Thus, Carballeda requested action by sports officials to achieve "one country on equal terms." He cited specific situations, such as Olympic gold medals having a reward of EUR 90,000, whereas the Paralympics are EUR 10,000. The kit of the Spanish national team in Rio will be free for the Olympic team, while the Paralympic team "we will have to pay a part."
Carballeda added that while the state budget allocated over EUR 50 million to the broadcasting of the Olympic Games on TVE, "we always have to pay to be relayed".
"We do not hide that we do not feel comfortable with this inequality,” Oscar Graefenhaim, Chief Executive Officer of Sports CSD, said. “We will work to make it up as far as possible.”
To celebrate Perales’ award, a 22-hour swimming relay was held the day before at Piscina del Canoe, in honour of the 22 Paralympic medals achieved by Perales. The first relay was swam by Perales, followed by cyclists Igor Perico Delgado Anton, boxer Jonathan "Maravilla" Alonso, and members of the Spanish Paralympic swim team.
The swimmers who accompanied Perales in his tribute included Israel Oliver, Mary Delgado, Ariadna Edo, Marta Gomez and Isabel Hernández and the young talent Ivan Salguero.