From Bamako to Tokyo via Lugo. These three-way connection could summarize the vital journey of Adiaratou Iglesias, a physical marvel that, in the Japanese city, astonished the world with its speed on the track but whose story gives off courage to face the injustices of life just for being albino.
Adiaratou Iglesias (Bamako, Mali; 1999) was born with albinism, a disorder caused by mutations in different genes that produces a reduction or total absence of melanic pigment in eyes, skin and hair and that, on occasions, also affects vision, such as in his case, with less than 20% visual capacity.
In Mali they consider that albinism is bad luck if you are alive but good luck if you are dead. In fact, there are people who go out to chase albinos to kill them or cut off a limb from their body and have it as a good luck charm.
Because of that fear, her life was practically reduced to being at home and not going out as a child. At home, his family was Muslim, his father had three wives and his deaf-mute mother was the youngest of them and had nine children.
Given the situation in Mali, the decision of her parents was to send her at the age of eleven to Spain, specifically to Logroño, where one of her stepbrothers lived. That change did not go well and she ended up in a shelter for minors where she met the person who would change her life, María Lina Iglesias, a teacher in Lugo, and who decided to adopt her.
He went to live with her in Lugo, he entered an athletics club and soon his qualities did not go unnoticed to the point of, over time, winning twice the Galician Athletics Championship in 100 and 200 meters against athletes without disability.
His progression on the track has been spectacular. Lina Iglesias always believed in her and encouraged her to nurture her sports dreams. In the 2019 World Cup in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) she was runner-up in 100 and 200 meters and this year, in the European Championship in Bydgoszcz (Poland), double continental champion in both distances.
In Tokyo he also took the podium in the T13 class. At the top. 11.96 in 100 meters, ahead of Azerbaijani Lamiya Valiyeva, silver, and American Kym Crosby, bronze.
“I don’t believe it yet. I like the competition but this race was very tough because of the level that it was,” admits Adiaratou, who dedicated his triumph, in the first place, to his mother. His Spanish mother. The person who has given him a new life in Lugo, a city from which he feels all the support.
The gold medal rewards the hard work of Adiaratou Iglesias and confirms his quality as an athlete in the world’s largest showcase of Paralympic sport. A nice wrapper to the soundtrack that fuels your life. Any song by his admired Salif Keita, a Malian musician also albino and recognized worldwide.