Mahira Bergallo Brzezicki, 19, is an Argentine athlete who will be participating in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, proud of overcoming adversity and certain that her being chosen to compete is an answer from God.
Bergallo, who was born with cerebral palsy, lives in Oberá, and will travel to the Japanese capital to compete in the Paralympic Games that bring together hundreds of athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities.
In this world event, the young athlete will represent Argentina, entrusting herself to God and wearing a “bracelet with a cross.”
The competition will be held Aug. 24 – Sept. 5 and includes sports such as archery, badminton, basketball, wheelchair fencing, horseback riding, judo, boccia, cycling, blind soccer, goalball, and track and field. Bergallo’s specialty is shot put.
She was surprised she was named to participate in the Paralympics in Tokyo and only found out the last weekend in June through the Argentine Federation of Athletes with Cerebral Palsy.
Since then she has juggled her days among her college studies in communications, an intense training schedule, and the charismatic renewal youth group to which she belongs.
Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, Bergallo explained that she didn’t imagine she would get this “tremendous news,” since in her life she has always set “small goals” due to her physical condition.
Bergallo was born Aug. 22, 2001, at six months gestation. The delivery was complex as her twin sister was born first and due to lack of oxygen, Bergallo suffers from cerebral palsy. This affected her ability to move, but not her intellect.
Without specialists to diagnose her physical condition, she only began to walk at the age of four. Even the family thought that her mild disability was due to a hereditary problem.
While Bergallo was trying to overcome bullying at school, she began to play sports with some difficulty and it was not until she was 14 that specialists diagnosed her problem.
Since then, experts channeled this young woman’s enthusiasm and dedication to adaptive sports.
It wasn’t easy for her to accept it, but “over the years, listening to the stories of my other classmates, I managed to understand that this is the way things are and I am proud of who I am,” Bergallo said.
She has been very close to her family, consisting of her parents, twin sister, younger brother and her grandmother, who “never treated her differently.
She also expressed her gratitude to “the track team, to my coach who is like a father and who helped me overcome many things, the friends and people whom I’ve come across in my life. They helped me understand that that was who I used to be and I discovered the other Mahira I didn’t know.”
But most of all, she said, “I cling to faith a lot. God occupies a very large place in my life. God guided me and he guided me to where I am today.”
“I always said to God to show me who I was. As a child, I asked myself ‘who am I’, ‘what am I in this world for’ and he showed me things that can only come from him.”
“Today I know what my path is and which way I have to follow and I’m more than happy to confirm it. I think this is and was what I was hoping for, and it’s even better,” she reflected.
This life experience is what Mahira Bergallo tries to share with the young people she gets together with in the youth prayer group at Our Lady of Fatima chapel.
Together with her twin sister, they both guide and accompany the group, where she enjoys prayer, praise, preaching and sharing with her peers who are also seeking answers from God and who support her.
“They’re like brothers to me, they’re concerned about my health, about my schedules, they will even help me with things for the trip,” she said.
Sports have changed Bergallo’s life: “It’s in my daily life, everything is related to it, it’s worked into everything and I can no longer stop training. And if I can no longer compete, I think I will dedicate myself to journalism, specializing in sports.”