The incredible story of Ángeles Ortiz

Ángeles Ortiz: “The shot put ball was transcendental in my life”

At Tenerife Top Training, the Mexican Paralympic and World Champion reports about her emotional story of perseverance.

Tenerife Top Training has always had the fortune to host numerous Olympic and Paralympic Champions. One of the latest debuts to the centre is Maria de los Angeles Ortiz (Comalcalco, February 18, 1973). A 2 time Paralympic winner and current 13 time world record holder in the discipline, shot put, who spent her last month leading up to the Rio Paralympic Games here on the island.

The Latin-American athlete, nicknamed as ’The lioness of Mexico’, won the National Sports Award 2011 in Mexico. She’s a good example of ambition as she explains in an emotional interview, where she reviews various chapters of her life, such as her childhood, her college days, the accident which cost her left leg, her return to competition, her Paralympic medals and her near future plans.

Sporty childhood “I’ve been always an athletic child, an inherited passion, as my father played baseball. One of my physical education teachers introduced me to athletics, but I didn’t enjoy running so much. Until one day, during training, I left the running track and went to another ground to throw a weight. Although my coaches weren’t initially happy, they knew it’s what I liked, and let me train twice a week. And here grew the challenge between gravity and myself”.

Accident “I was walking down the street and a very drunk, young woman ran over me, severing my left leg. It was two terrible years for me and my family- needing four operations. All I wanted was to get out of the clinic. I suffered a great injustice, but I am a strong believer in God and my parents have taught me values like respect, honesty and faith”.

Recovery “I couldn’t waste time in fighting this injustice, so I resumed my studies. I worked so hard that I got honourable mention for having the highest grade of my generation, completing my missing semesters in 2 months. I was even offered a position as a professor, where I worked every day as a lecture”.

Back to Sports “I was invited to a Regional test in Veracruz. I had never stopped exercising, but also hadn’t thrown for two years, as I didn’t know there were possibilities to throw for people in similar situations to me. In this moment, when my ball passed through my hands, I closed my eyes, and it was amazing how something my mind and my muscles remembered something that I had forgotten. That’s when I had my comeback with shot put. I threw it with all my strength. After landing, a gentleman came over to me and told me that I had just qualified for the National team, and if I could reach eight meters, I could classify for the Pan American Games of Rio, 2007”.

High Performance Centre.- “It was all very fast. My family encouraged me to continue, even though I was not convinced. In the end, I started training on my own and participated in the National Team. They demanded 7.80 and I threw 8.30 meters. It was December and the same man of the Regional told me in January he expected me in the Mexican Paralympic Center, where I would train a whole year with him to prepare the Pan American Games Rio. These were very difficult times, because I had my daughter and the University, but in the end I left, annoyed. And even then I was thinking about leaving, twice, but thanks to Esther Rivera, javelin thrower and world champion in Athens, convinced me to stay”.

Championships “In Rio I wasn’t the favourite, but I threw, and when I noticed, I climbed to the top step of the podium, with an international record of 10 meters and 12 centimetres. That was the christening of my world records and since then we have achieved 12 more. We won 3 gold medals at the Pan American and World Championships, two Gold Paralympics Games in London and a Silver in Beijing, where we even beat the record twice”.

Looking Back “I don’t regret anything. The sport and my ball gave me the opportunity to visit many places around the world, to meet the numerous people, from leaders to the humblest, who I would have never met otherwise. The barriers we place ourselves, with dedication and discipline we achieve the objective“.

T3 “In Veracruz, we don’t have such a complete centre as Tenerife Top Training, and my coach, Ulises Menendez, says that Tenerife is a number one location, which can get me out of my daily routine, and where I can focus 100% on the sport. So it happened. We got several ideas here that will serve us also in Mexico. I feel very good on this Island. In fact, we made a special mark. These days, being isolated and focused on the sport, have helped me a lot”.

Rio 2016 “The goal is to set a 14th World Record, and if possible, Gold in shot-put. I only did discus in the Pan Americans and I was not bad, but haven’t trained for it. With the previous rule, only hip, my World Record was 11.50 meters, and the goal is to beat that record. I didn’t like this rule change, because it limits us even more, when it’s supposed to change to further exploit everything that serves you, not to limit you. And now, the way to throw, limits us”.

Future “I said I wanted three World Cups, three Pan Americans and three Paralympics. After two years, now that I’m dominating this new technique, it pains me to quit. My body is asking for rest, and to spend time with my family, who I really appreciate for their love, understanding and support. Until the end of the year, after the Games, I will take a break, and in January we will take the final decision, but the idea now is to return to T3 next year, just before we leave to the World Cup in London, together with the Mexican national teams for swimming and athletics. “

SUMMARIES:

“On my return, it was amazing how my mind and muscles had remembered something I had forgotten, to throw the shot put. We create our own barriers.”

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