A year of changes ends and another one full of hope begins.

Christmas is here and, in between meals and parties with family, friends and acquaintances – so typical at this time of year, especially important when one lives far from home – it is time to look back at the year that is ending and, more importantly, plan the year ahead, planning our objectives and challenges fort the different aspects of our life.

2017 has been, for me, a year of many changes. A year that started in Murcia, with an amazing project I developed for schools as well as training with Salva -with whom I started my athletics career. However, I felt really motivated by the work I was doing in schools, perhaps even more than my sporting endeavours. In my sporting career my aim was to remain in the world top ten and to finish as one of the top eight in the World Championships which were to be held in London in July 2017, in the same stadium where, in 2012, I fulfilled my dream by taking part in the Paralympics, the most important event in the calendar for an athlete with disabilities.

I made a series of important decisions, such as changing my coach -I finished the season with Antonio Ranchal- and started planning my return to Madrid, with the aim of completing and consolidating my projects for the educational system and expanding my training in the field of prevention of violence and situations of vulnerability in children by helping them regain their hope for the future as well as their motivation and ambition in sports.

On a sporting level, the season ended with sixth place in the 400m race and two tenth places in the 100 and 200 metre races, which put me once again among the ten best athletes in the world, this time in my three specialities.

But the best was yet to come. In September, after my return to Madrid and the Blume High Performance Centre, I had lunch with my friend Nacho Guerreros, a great actor and, above all, an extraordinary person committed to the struggle for a childhood without violence or bullying. This meeting changed everything. Nacho told me about the ANAR Foundation. His association with this organisation started with the publication of his book, “I was bullied” – a book which I wholeheartedly recommend. Nacho put me in touch with Ana Milans, who works in the ANAR Foundation.

This changed everything for me. From the very first moment, Ana treated me the way a good mother treats her son. She taught me about the foundation and what they do, their extraordinary work in schools, their amazing and also demanding work in its three foster homes, and above all, their tremendous work over the telephone, email and ANAR chat, where every day they help more than 1,200 vulnerable children in Spain who find themselves in dangerous situations.

Ana not only welcomed me by making me feel at home, but she took the time to listen and find out about the projects I had done in the field of education. She also introduced me to Luisa, head of training. All the tools at ANAR’s disposal are developed and maintained by psychologists, who work together with lawyers and social workers. All of them must complete a rigorous and interesting training course given by the Foundation and headed by Luisa. She suggested that I did the course in order to increase my knowledge and to gain an insight into how ANAR actually works.

During the course I met some amazing people in ANAR, Sonsoles, Benjamin, Marta and her spectacular practice sessions, and not forgetting Silvia, the president. Silvia is one of those people who makes those around her feel good just by being there. This fantastic welcome from everyone made it easy for me to take the next step, which is one of my objectives and challenges for 2018.

At a sporting level, the main objective for the new year is the European Championships, which will be held from August 20 to 26 in Berlin. In that championship the great challenge is having a chance to win medals. Another dream for the new year is being able to become Spanish champion.

On a personal level, the great challenge is committing myself to ANAR, a foundation that I’m dedicated to. I want to be able to play my part in the fight for a safe childhood without violence for ALL children. By doing this I will be able to fulfil the dream with which I started 2017 – to complete and consolidate my project on values and also the prevention of violence in children and minors.

A year full of changes ends and one of work and hope begins. Many thanks to all who have helped, accompanied, followed and supported me. With your good wishes, undoubtedly, it is much easier to smile. You make it much easier for me to continue, one more year, pursuing my dream …
Thank you!

You can see my article at https://sportspanish.es/

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