The 28-year-old Robelson Moreira Lula's testimony of struggle is moving and inspiring. The cross country ski athlete could take different directions on their personal journey. Thanks to the willpower to live and the evangelical belief (“guided by God”, as he says) he was able to overcome the barriers. And above all: having put sport as an instrument to play in another way the problems and sequelae of a cancer he had at 11 years old.
The Juru man from Paraíba, who lives in the city of São Carlos (São Paulo countryside), needed to amputate his right leg above the knee. “It was not easy for a teenager to have to undergo chemotherapy, feel very hungry and face painful and uncomfortable processes such as continuous tube feeding”, recalls the Physical Education student at UNICEP (Centro Universitário Central Paulista).
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A former candidate for councilor for the Citizenship party in the same city where he lives, he will be one of the six names in the sport that will compete in the Winter Paralympic Games between March 4th and 13th. It will be the first participation of Robelson, known as Robinho, in the mega competition. From Sweden, where he was, he gave an exclusive interview. After competing at the Worlds in Finland last year, it would be Italy's turn.
Robinho qualified with 91 points, which guaranteed his going with Team Brasil to the dispute. He has only been practicing the sport in the snow for four years. Among the snow there are also snowboarding, alpine skiing and biathlon. Ice sports are for hockey and wheelchair curling.
Robelson's initiation into cross-country came after participating in a lecture at UNICEP given by the coordinator of CBDN (Brazilian Confederation of Sports in the Snow), former skier Leandro Ribela. The stimulus led him to the Brasil na Neve project. And the first trips came, meeting, for example, Vuokoatti, at the World Cup in Finland. He was considered a revelation in the 2018/2019 seasons and number 1 in the national ranking for rollerski (ski on wheels). Before cross-country skiing, he started swimming and participated in Paralympic wheelchair handball and athletics (jumping).
The performance in these games can also represent personal disclosure, as Robelson is not sponsored. His travels and expenses are paid for by the CBDN from which he receives the athlete scholarship. And from UNICEP the support in scholarships. For extra disputes abroad, he needs to make it possible out of his own pocket.
His attempt to enter politics was aimed at the position of councilor focused on the platform of projects for the disabled and dissemination of sport in several neighborhoods, thus spreading a program on several fronts. He was not happy in his attempt despite the effort, reaching the deputy councilor. His personal mantra is to always practice sport in a healthy way. And be guided by divine force. It also alerts interested people. “High-performance sport requires many variables, which is not easy, especially for those who lack resources”. That's why he needs support for maintenance in competitions. “It is necessary to go beyond liking it a lot”, evaluates the parathlete.
Due to his functional classification (w12-2), Robelson disputes the tests in the class (adapted chair with a pair of skis). The workouts are performed on asphalt with the sit ski (developed for people with lower movement limitations and evolve to be adapted for those who have limb amputations).
In training, dedication is full in two periods each day of the week. Disrupted by the pandemic in 2020, he used the erg ski (ski simulator equipment that can be suitable for both cardiovascular and strength focus). And on top it strengthens with aerobic exercises. In addition to this job, he trains on the asphalt with the rollerski (wheel ski). Something that can be contested, but an alternative also adopted by athletes from other countries. The difference is even on account of the participation in international competitions that excel the competitor.
He lists a series of procedures in addition to the training itself to start thinking about success. For example: arriving days before competitions; be well dressed, warm and observe the condition of the track and the snow (light or heavy). These are tips focused on good results. According to the paraleta, who also closed his enrollment at the Faculty of Physical Education thinking about full dedication, “only then would he have more chances of conquest”. His support still comes from specialized care in nutrition and from the emotional side with psychologists.
Without shying away, he says he has never suffered prejudice of any kind. Robinho, however, highlights something he considers most relevant at the moment: the importance of being immunized with three doses and various precautions in the fight against Covid-19, especially with the presence of the Omicron variant.