Miguel, 35, and Pedro Ferreira Pinto, 33, form the ‘Iron Brothers’, a sporting duo of brothers passionate about the sport that competes in the Iron Man modality, a long-distance variant of triathlon, which includes swimming, road and athletics, in consecutive segments.
Pedro has cerebral palsy, a condition that never stopped him, or his family, from doing whatever they wanted: “No one is ever left behind because it is not possible”, clarified his older brother. They grew up doing “everything together”, before this initiative they had already done five mini marathons together, “but always at a light pace and in a group”. “It never went beyond that”, they recall, exclaiming: “Now we don’t stop”.
World Physical Activity Day means, for the brothers, that this practice “has to be truly inclusive” and serves as an alert for the “fundamental role” that the Iron Brothers believe that sport should play. “Physical activity is antidepressant, therapeutic, disease prevention and freedom. It is in sport that we meet as few brothers meet”, they commented, leaving the question: “After all, how many brothers have the privilege of spending 24 hours straight together, in an environment of challenge and mutual help?”
It was in 2018 that this idea was born and, since then, they have never stopped. To date, they have run four half marathons, one marathon, half an Iron Man and several 10 kilometer races. The brothers’ sporting union was, in fact, something unexpected, which occurred after Miguel, who practiced crossfit, had an injury that prevented him from training with loads for at least six months.
As such, he decided to adapt to what he could do and started by accepting the challenge of the Oeiras Triathlon, in the sprint distance, which excited him and led him to sign up for the Cascais Ironman 70.3, with the mission of raising money for help the Lisbon Cerebral Palsy Association (APCL).
Where does the ‘Iron Brothers’ inspiration come from?
Not that they lacked inspiration, but a pair of brothers gave them even more motivation and strength to finish the Iron Man race in the United States of America: “It was an emotional moment at the table, with a lot of tears in the mix and that ended with a look from Pedro. A very characteristic look that almost always contains a question: Can we?”told Miguel to News by the Minute.
Although it seemed crazy, fifteen days later they were both at Docapesca doing their first triathlon experience, at the MyLx Triathlon Experience. At that moment, the ‘Iron Brothers’ were born: “We knew that the project was to go ahead and we had to find a name”, explained the brothers, adding that the idea was Pedro’s and Miguel’s choice of name.
Not only were they inspired by international sporting examples, the American duo ‘Team Hoyt’ and the brothers ‘Pease’, from the Kyple Pease Foundation, but they also sought strength from those who were always close by, their parents and the “normality with which they faced the whole life”. The brothers’ intention is to be able to demonstrate that our country “has courageous people”, as well as “try to dignify Portugal, Portuguese adapted sport and all the people who see themselves in us, with and without cerebral palsy”.
Although they feel determined to train, they confess that not every day they feel like it, but the responsibility that “grows every day” does not let them question that what they do “is important” and, thus, they motivate each other. Competing in pairs is, in their words, “more demanding than individually, either by weight or by the lengthening of the hours that you are in competition”, but Miguel and Pedro have something that favors them, which they call “doping the test”. love” and see it as an advantage because in Iron Man events it is forbidden to ride close to other athletes. However, as they compete together, Pedro doesn’t let Miguel down and helps to create “psychological games at key moments”.
“Cerebral palsy never defined Pedro”admitted Miguel, while commenting that, sometimes, there are even those who are surprised by the way they treat each other because “apart from the natural limitations, the whole deal is done exactly as if nothing happened”, he clarified, adding “it has always been that way”, “ We don’t know any other way to live. Although it is not an easy path, the ‘Iron Brothers’ intend to send a “message of pure inclusion” and to alert to the “need of people with cerebral palsy in society and in sport”.
What obstacles do you face?
Despite their incomparable willpower, they face several obstacles, including the price of material needed for exams – such as the chair adapted for people with cerebral palsy which is “exorbitantly expensive” – and the “lack of preparation for the tests” to receive athletes who compete just like them.
“To have true inclusion, there cannot be a favor. It cannot be an authorization. A pair should only be able to register on the competition website, like any other person.”they stressed, explaining that, in their view, it would be something “quite simple to implement. It would be enough to put a field where they ask ‘Athlete with a disability? Yes/No’ and, if so, ask if a guide or support for locomotion would be necessary”.
Another of the adversities they face is the fact that they are placed “always with the slowest”, which “can create situations in which someone swerves onto the chair and gets hurt” when they overtake. To fill this gap in the organization of competitions, they suggest that “chairs are allowed to leave the beginning, next to the side aisle”, as is the case “in American competitions and in many countries around the world”.
This year, they already participated in the Seville Marathon, where they lowered their time, as they wanted. On the agenda is the Challenge Lisboa, in May, in the half Iron Man distance: “The possibility of running in celebration with our already some supporters and friends”, they commented. After this challenge, they would like to compete in the European Championships in Hamburg.
Read Also: Portuguese people practiced more exercise in 2021
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