“Life is not based on the positive things we have in life; it is based on the obstacles we have and how we can face and overcome them.”— Lazaro Cordero
It is 1:30 in the morning and while everyone else sleeps and the moon still shines in the immense sky of Miami, a 21-year-old man with big dreams and challenges begins his day.
We refer to Lazaro Cordero, maybe not a well-known youngster for some, but for others an example of sacrifice and effort to be followed. Even though he is a cancer survivor who lost his left leg four years ago, his goal is to become part of the United States Olympic Swimming team, for the disability has not stopped him from his desire to make a difference.
He is currently pursuing an architectural degree at Miami-Dade College, Homestead Campus. Taking time from his busy schedule, he shares with us what his typical day looks like. He begins before dawn. From 2 to 4:30 a.m., he lifts weights at the gym, and from 5 to 7:30 a.m., he practices in the swimming pool.
From eight in the morning, he immerses himself in his university studies. By 3 p.m., he puts aside his books and works with dumbbells. From 5 to 7:30 p.m., he puts on his bathing suit to practice in the water again. Around 8 p.m., he arrives at his house to have dinner and to get ready to go to bed. He then sleeps about five hours, which will be enough rest to continue with his routine for five days. During the weekends, he competes with his Paralympics team.
“Because of my limitation, I must sacrifice more, dedicate more time, and work harder to be at the same level with people who have both legs,” said Cordero, who is originally from San Miguel del Padron in the Cuban capital. At the age of 17, he made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated.
It was not until three years ago, when he was in a park learning to walk with his new prosthesis, that he saw the swimming team practicing and decided to talk to coach Yan Martinez. “He motivated me to be part of the team and warned me that I had to sacrifice myself and that the process would be hard, but that I could be someone through swimming.”
He is currently a member of the Devilrays Swim Club, a 13-year-old, non-profit organization that offers swimming lessons to underprivileged children and youth in the Cutler Bay and Homestead areas in Miami-Dade County.
Despite his short swimming career, he has achieved great results, winning medals in several events, including the Florida Gold Coast Swimming, currently ranking No. 2 in the United States and among the 10 best in the world in his category.
With those results, he feels that his dream of being part of the Olympic team is almost here. He has the best swimming times, performance and skills that show he has everything that is needed. However, surgery on his leg prevented him from participating in the Pan American Games in 2015, delaying the achievement of his goal. A year from now, he waits for the opportunity to compete and win his ticket to the American team.
When we hear him, we perceive not only a great maturity despite his young age, but strength in everything that he sets out to achieve. Among his plans is to give a new meaning to Paralympics swimming. “I want people to support swimmers with disabilities, so it’s important that they know more about our history, that they become familiar with our program and how we do things, so they understand that even though we have disabilities, we can and we will make a difference.”
This young man gives us a great lesson in life that when there is a will, there is a way. “My message today to people who are experiencing physical disabilities is to look at the example of the Paralympics team and to realize that if we can do it, they can do it too. Nothing is impossible.
You just have to have faith and the desire to get ahead with sacrifice and to succeed,” concludes Lázaro, who will return to his routine to end one more day exercising his iron will.
Haz clic para leer en Español: Lázaro Cordero: Un joven con voluntad de hierro