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"I started to lose vision in my right eye in June 2015, during the festivities of San Juan I saw a spot. They did tests and did not find the reason until in November it also affected the other eye, then they did a genetic analysis and it came out that I suffered from Leber's optic neuropathy. It is a hereditary disease, but in my family there were no cases. In April 2016 I didn't see anything anymore. I had just turned 18 and I didn't do anything, I didn't go to class, I was broken. I was only encouraged by skateboarding. In fact, I tried hard to go down to the street, to use the cane, to go out with my friends because I wanted to skate again."
Marcelo Lusardi is 25 years old and a skateboarder. Born in Argentina, but emigrated as a child to Santiago de Compostela with his family, he lives skating as he always dreamed and, at the same time, as he never dreamed. "When I was a kid, skateboarding was my life. All my friends were skateboarders, I wore skate clothes, watched videos of skaters, played skateboarding video games... Now it's even more than that. Skateboarding made me reborn, it made me recover the illusion of living, "confesses who has become a celebrity in the world. With the nickname of The blind skater has his own documentary on Youtube, more than 100,000 followers on Instagram -among them, Tony Hawk, the best skater in history-, has participated in several exhibitions and has the support of brands from which he lives. Between his disability pension and the advertisements he needs nothing but skateboarding.
But how does he do it? I have the advantage of having seen and skated with vision. Before I went blind I wasn't very good, but I already knew how to skateboard and do some basic tricks. That helps me understand what's going on. When I went blind I learned to walk and skate with a cane at the same time. Now I make a mental map of all the elements that I have in front of me and with the cane I am palping. Although adapting was a slow process.
In fact, Lusardi thought he wouldn't skate again. When he began to lose his vision, at the age of 17, ONCE taught him to use the cane, but he did not know that he could combine it with his passion. "At first I tried without a cane, without anything, and I was very scared. I remember the first time I jumped off a ramp, with all my friends next door. Or the first time I jumped a step. A friend shouted at me Ya! And I did, but it was very vague, very crazy," he recalls of the process. Then came the visual acuity, when he began to orient himself in the skate park through the noise of cars or the cries of children, the completed tricks, the skillful handling of the cane, the stairs, the platforms or the curbs overcome.
"Until one day I did a trick that I hadn't done when I saw. It was the host. I can't imagine that: skating better being blind," recalls Lusardi, the only blind skater in Europe or, at least, the only one known. "Here in Spain I met a surfer, a blind guy, who took some skateboarding lessons and competed with me. The experience was very cool. In the United States there are several, seven or eight, and they are even trying to tour together, "he says.
Would you like to compete? Skateboarding is now an Olympic sport and paraskateboarding can be Paralympic. I would like to, of course, but it is difficult. I also already feel fulfilled. I appreciate what I do, I appreciate what life has put in my way. I travel with my friends, I know new places to skate, and I feel a lot of affection in the exhibitions. I have met people who tell me that they have been moved, that they have cried. When I made the documentary there was a little boom and now I just enjoy it.
In recent times, Lusardi has offered several talks in schools and institutes in Galicia in which the message is clear: obstacles are to be jumped. "The children tell me if it is not dangerous to skate while blind and I answer that at most I get a scratch or a bruise. I like if I am an example of something, although what I try to convey is that they take things slowly and that way it ends up coming out even the most difficult. It's a matter of desire", concludes Lusardi before getting back on the skateboard that was once his life and now it is "even more than that".
- Articles Javier Sánchez