Desirée Vila, the gymnast who lost a leg and will compete as an athlete in the Paralympic Games

“Hello everybody! I am Desirée and I am missing a foot ”. Resolute and expressive in front of the camera, a 22-year-old girl presents herself like this in the videos she posts on YouTube. The most viewed one has almost half a million visits and explains what their prostheses look like, how much they cost and how they work. That positive energy is also the result of a process that began six years ago when she was a teenager peering into the elite of acrobatic gymnastics. In training he suffered a fracture of the tibia and fibula that resulted, according to a court ruling, in medical negligence that forced him to amputate his right leg above the knee.

Desirée Vila Bargiela, born in Pontevedra, has just achieved the minimum mark to participate in the Paralympic Games. Now she is an athlete, she is among the best in the world in her category in long jump, she has the records of Spain in that discipline and in 100 meters, she lives in the Blume Residence in Madrid, trains in a High Performance Center, she is a university student offers talks to managers. He went from wanting to die to drinking life. “What took place was a psychological and personal transition because I learned to manage emotions,” he explains.

In March 2015, in a hospital in Vigo, a 15-year-old girl wondered what her life was going to be like. “You ask yourself so many questions! You get the news of an amputation and you don’t know anything about disability. Now I see it with different eyes. I have limitations, but I do more than many people who have two legs. And that’s what I want to convey ”.

The sport never stopped being there. “I tried swimming, wheelchair table tennis, basketball. It was difficult for me to turn the page of gymnastics, but I needed the adrenaline of competition and high-performance sports, putting my body to the limit, having a coach and planning ”, recalls Vila. He watched the athletics events of the Paralympic Games on television and understood that this was his thing. He put on a competition prosthesis, he went on Erasmus to Malta. He saw, tasted, matured and decided. “I went to Madrid without knowing anyone to make a bet for and for sport,” he says. The bet also included a turn in the studies, a new life. “I think it turned out well,” he resolves.

Jumping over a sand pit should not be easy when one of the supports is made on a crossbow. There emerges the gymnast who seemed forgotten. “The most technical part is similar because in gymnastics they also taught you to land. And in both cases at the beginning he always gives you some respect ”. Don’t tell Desirée Vila about your fears. He was devastated in a hospital bed when he was searching for videos with information on how he could live on one leg. And he cleared them with a visit that changed his life because the references he was tracking did not appear on the network but at his home in Gondomar, near Vigo. Irene Villa [víctima de ETA que perdió las dos piernas] came to meet me. And it is not the same that they tell you that you will be able to lead a normal life or play sports than to have in front of the example of a person who leads an extraordinary life and has a family. I had doubts even if I could have children! She was very young, but those most intimate questions, those insecurities, can only be answered by those who have passed it ”.

That’s why Desirée warns in her videos, pizpireta, that she is missing a foot. “I speak openly about disability and with a positive and natural message,” he clarifies. And those values ​​are what he exposes when he goes with the Adecco Foundation to give talks in companies. Now she is the reference. “Sometimes I think about how it is possible that several entrepreneurs are listening to what I have to say.” But they take care of her because she has something important to tell them: “In the world of work, there are still prejudices towards people with disabilities. We should normalize it and focus more on capabilities than on people’s limitations. “

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