It’s never late to start. Not to start over. The phrases may seem like clichés, but they are part of the story of Beth Gomes, athlete who, at 56 years old, despite being the oldest member of the Brazilian delegation at the Tokyo Paralympics, won the first gold medal of her career in an event of this size . Yesterday (30), she won the discus throw in the F52 class, for wheelchair users, with the right to a world record and an incredible four better shots than the second placed.
“Because I have a progressive pathology, multiple sclerosis, I reinvent myself every day. I live today, because tomorrow I don’t know if I’ll be here or not. I live every day. Every day I seek this desire. That’s what that makes me want to go on, to be able to go on,” Beth said to UOL Sport, by telephone, after receiving the gold medal at Tokyo National Stadium.
Beth was a municipal guard in the city of Santos, where she lives, when she fell while trying to jump over a puddle and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord, and that affects the sending of commands from the brain to the rest of the body. From time to time, the person has relapses, when a new symptom appears or there is a significant worsening of an old symptom.
In practice, this means that the person starts to have greater physical motor impairment. Since that fall in 1993, at age 28, Beth has been walking on crutches. Ten years later, she became quadriplegic and lost her eyesight, deficiencies that later regressed. The most recent outbreak happened in 2017, which paralyzed part of the left side of his body.
Rather than seize the moment to retire from the sport, after more than two decades competing in high performance — she went to the 2008 Paralympics in wheelchair basketball and the 2012 one in athletics — Beth opted for a reclassification in the Paralympic movement . She, who competed in the F54 class, became part of the F52 class.
“I don’t think he’s old enough to practice sports, he just needs to be in perfect condition. Whatever the sport. Paralympic sports offer us that, different from conventional ones. I started when I was in my 30s and I’m still competing. sport transforms lives, sport motivates you, gives you full autonomy. As my coach says: let’s go until we’re 70, 80 years old…”, says the launcher, who doesn’t think about retirement.
Beth was 27 years old, was at the height of her professional career as a municipal guard and plays volleyball when her mother, Marcelina, died. She was orphaned from her “biological parents” in 2010 when she was in England playing the World Wheelchair Basketball Championship, an event that marked her retirement from this sport.
But the athlete ended up lovingly adopted by another family, the couple Manoel Ferreira and Ruth Amaral, who all over Brazil knows through the work. They are the composers of the carnival marchinhas made famous by the voice (and programs) of Silvio Santos. “Grandpa’s kite doesn’t go up anymore” and “Doctor, I’m not mistaken” are their creations, which continued to animate Carnival blocks until they were over 80 years old.
The two came into Ruth’s life through their daughter, Rosana Ferreira, a doctor who specializes in multiple sclerosis, and who takes care of the now Paralympic champion. “It’s been 21 years since God put this angel in my life. It’s a thing from past lives,” says Ruth, who calls Rosana her sister and who received the news of “Mommy” Ruth’s death when she was already in Tokyo to compete in the Paralympics, on the last day 22.
But this trauma would no longer shake the athlete’s confidence, who made intense preparations to become Paralympic champion. “I train every day, in two periods, with gym and technical training at Clube dos Portuários”, says Ruth, who had to be “reinvented” in the pandemic.
“I set up a gym at home, with my trainer giving remote training, through video call. That’s how the whole pandemic went, non-stop. That gave us strength to get here and do a great competition”, she says, who gives every answer a way to quote the trainer, Rosiane Farias, with whom she has worked for about a decade. “I, alone, do nothing. It’s 50% me and 50% my coach”.