Naomi Soazo, una huella de oro en el movimiento paralímpico

Naomi Soazo sube al tatami sin lentes, sus grandes aliados para luchar contra la retinitis pigmentaria sin pigmento que le diagnosticaron cuando tenía 11 años. No logra ver bien. Sin embargo, con su judo vence los obstáculos de la vida y se convierte en la primera venezolana con dos medallas en los Juegos Paralímpicos

Lo que Naomi escribía en su cuaderno nunca coincidía con lo que su maestra había escrito en la pizarra. Ella pensaba que ver poco o borroso era normal, que todos a su alrededor veían igual. Estaba equivocada. Sus padres la llevaron al médico y luego de muchos exámenes supieron que sufría una patología degenerativa. “Mi visión se ha desmejorado. En cualquier momento me pueden salir pigmentos”, cuenta la atleta paralímpica desde Santiago de Chile. 

Aunque de chiquita practicó voleibol, natación y nado sincronizado, al entrar al Liceo Caracas eligió la disciplina que le inculcó su padre y sensei, Humberto Soazo. “Yo decidí comenzar judo por mi papá. Él me transmitió la pasión por este deporte. Nunca pensé en llegar a la parte competitiva, empiezo a practicar como materia para el liceo”, relata quien asistió a sus primeras competencias en el 2000. 

En 2006 participó en su primer mundial en Francia y quedó séptima. Ese evento la dejó con el sabor amargo de no haber llegado a un podio, pero con la espinita de ir por más. Además, el escuchar que la llamaban Venezuela la hizo entender que no competía solo por ella, sino por un país. 

“Me afectó mucho, yo no me sentía conforme. Quería estar en el podio. Fue una competencia muy significativa. Ahí me dije: vamos a ponernos la camiseta y a entrenar fuerte”, recuerda como si no hubiesen pasado 14 años de aquel viaje.

Naomi Soazo
Naomi Soazo ganó la primera medalla de oro paralímpica para Venezuela / paralympic.org

Naomi dorada en Beijing  

Dos años después de sentirse frustrada en una competencia, Naomi Soazo se presentó en los Juegos Paralímpicos de Beijing 2008. El 8 de septiembre de ese año, los aros olímpicos la recibieron para que brillara en la división -63 kilogramos B3. El podio que vio lejano en Francia fue su trono para que escuchara el Gloria al Bravo Pueblo. 

“Fue una experiencia única, fueron dos años muy fuertes. En ese proceso mi meta era montarme en el podio y conseguir el primer lugar. Mi motivación era escuchar el himno ahí. Cuando lo logramos no lo podíamos creer. Lo habíamos soñado tanto que al tocar la medalla era como irreal”. 

Han pasado doce años y ella aún habla con emoción de aquel día.  Ese recuerdo lo lleva como uno de los momentos más felices de su carrera. Es la primera venezolana que logró tal hazaña. Gracias a su medalla en el país muchos se enteraron de que existían unos Juegos Paralímpicos. “Yo me siento feliz de haber dejado mi huella en el movimiento paralímpico en mi país, en la historia”, confiesa. 

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Cuatro años más tarde, Soazo ondeaba el tricolor nacional en la ceremonia inaugural de los Juegos Paralímpicos Londres 2012. En aquel evento las rivales más difíciles de vencer fueron sus batallas internas. Luego de que le hicieran los respectivos exámenes oftalmológicos, se dio cuenta que su visión había desmejorado. Aun así obtuvo un diploma paralímpico. 

“Fue un gran impacto, no es fácil saber que estás perdiendo la vista. En ese momento entendí que tenía que cuidar mi salud visual. Decidí retirarme”. 

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El regreso al tatami y una medalla de bronce  

Naomi Soazo había tomado una decisión. Los golpes que recibía en el tatami la estaban afectando. Sin embargo, durante un par de años se mantuvo pensando si decir adiós con su actuación en Londres o irse por la puerta grande. La segunda opción se impuso y un año antes de Río 2016 regresó para pelear un cupo a los Juegos Paralímpicos.  

“Fue un momento muy difícil porque dije ya no más en el tatami. Intenté seguir teniendo mi condición física, pero ya para Río se enfrentaba otra dificultad que era subir de categoría. Un peso más arriba es mucha preparación. Fue todo un reto ir en contra de la corriente. Aposté por la memoria deportiva e ir a todas”, detalla quien el 10 de septiembre de 2016 se colgó una medalla de bronce en la categoría B2 de -70 kilogramos. 

El objetivo se cumplió; Naomi estaba en el podio que tanto visualizó mientras que preparaba la competencia con su padre Humberto. Más allá de la presea, su mayor premio fue abrazar a su progenitor. Solo ellos dos sabían cuánto había costado estar ahí. 

Con dos medallas paralímpicas (oro y bronce) ahora sí podía decir adiós. Ya no quería pasar sus días entrenando, necesitaba descansar. En ese momento era novia de su actual esposo Jaime Machado, selección nacional de remo y le había pedido matrimonio. 

En 2017, Jaime recibió una propuesta de trabajo en Chile y migraron al país austral. El judo quedó como recreación para ella, sigue entrenando, pero no está enfocada en el alto rendimiento. Sus prioridades cambiaron y ahora disfruta ser mamá de Santiago, quien tiene 3 años. Además está a punto de graduarse como técnico en actividad física y deporte en la Universidad de las Américas. 

Su legado en el movimiento paralímpico

El nombre de Naomi Soazo quedará en la historia del deporte venezolano. Muchos la recuerdan por sus medallas, otros por ese legado de luchar sin importar las adversidades. 

“A partir del 2008 se da a conocer un poquito más el mundo paralímpico. Empieza a masificarse las distintas disciplinas. Es importante que se continúe la masificación de estos deportes, porque se desconoce la diversidad que existe que se ajusta a las disciplinas”, declara quien estuvo trabajando en el Gobierno del Distrito Capital. 

La doble medallista paralímpica cree que es importante que exista más integración entre el movimiento olímpico y el paralímpico. Que haya igualdad y reconocimiento. “Ambos movimientos estamos defendiendo el nombre de Venezuela. Cuando un venezolano llega, llegamos todos. Sin ninguna distinción”. 

El tener una discapacidad hizo que su esfuerzo fuese el doble para alcanzar sus metas. Por eso, espera que su trabajo pueda servir de ejemplo para otras personas. Que más allá de sus medallas, recuerden que no importan los obstáculos, sino las ganas de superarse. 

“Uno lo que pide es que eso ayude a inspirar a otras personas. Que sueñen en grande. Con mucha perseverancia se pueden alcanzar los éxitos. ¡Si alguien desea lograrlo, lo va hacer!”

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