Javier Hernandez, “Head to Head”, journalist and olympic swimmer
Javier Hernandez, “Head to Head”, journalist and olympic swimmer
Javier Hernández was born without arms and with a dystimetry in the legs. Despite this, he entered the Autonomous University of Barcelona by cut-off note, graduated in Audiovisual Communication and Journalism and became a great sports journalist. Javier writes on his computer keyboard with his toes at a rate of 220 beats per minute. Following his passion for the sport, at the age of 29 he began training in the pools, which led him to get 29 medals at Spanish championships (13 gold) and gold in 50 meters backstroke at the 2012 Berlin Open. That same year, Javier was a finalist at the London Paralympics. In addition, it is the third European to get the driver’s license with its feet.
Together with Pablo Toboso and Alfonso Reyes, he is founder of the association From Head to Toewhose purpose is to modernize the global vision about/of people with diversity of any kind as well as muscle the self-esteem of these people. Recently we did an interview with Javier in which we were able to get to know him a little better:
Journalist by profession, you type with your feet at a speed of 220 beats per minute. When did you learn to do it and how did you do it?
With the keyboard I started in the autumn of the year 97, when I started the career of Audiovisual Communication at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, which I managed to access by cutting note and not by the space reserved for people with more than 65 disability. I have recognized a 90, at birth without arms and with one leg shorter than the other. And I did, simply, bringing it down to the ground and devoting a lot of time until, several months later, I went from not knowing where each letter was to writing with some ease. Four years later, I was working in the writing of Sports of Heraldo of Aragon, at the same pace as my colleagues and with the same keyboard and mouse model that they used. Putting them on the ground, that’s for sure.
Also Paralympic champion: you reached a final after only three years of training. Where did the challenge come from and why?
I’ve never been champion in anything, let alone a Paralympic Games. I did qualify as a swimswimr for the London 2012 and entered the final of the 50 meters back of my category: S3. I was eighth and final, probably because I made it to the date with the ninth best mark of all the participants and the natural thing would have been to drop in the semi-finals. I got a diploma as a finalist for it and it is a diploma that no one in the world has achieved… in the same circumstances: starting to train at 30 years, achieving it only three and a half years later, in a core discipline such as swimming and when Paralympic sport among the main powers of the world – Spain is not among them, for now – is absolutely professional. The challenge arose from my life long-standing relationship with sport, as a child I was attracted to more than anything else and allowed me to develop and socialize permanently. I am dedicated to sports journalism for this and, there came a moment, between 2008 and 2009 that I thought to try it. I knew it was a suspected impossible and that it started too late, but failure was never in not getting it, but not trying. And if you try things, some you get.
Another achievement: you are the third European to get a driver’s license driving with your feet. How’d you get it?
The Irrintzi driving school,in Basauri (Biscay), has been working for almost three decades on the mission that all people, whatever they are and live with the reality they live, can obtain the official driver’s license if, technically and humanly, it is possible. Its thrust, sustained by this determination and its own workshop, has even dragged the DGT of the province to, with some further proof and greater demand (120 practical classes, 2500 kilometers…), that it is the first in Spain to agree to examine and , if applicable, approve. The first was, in 2011, Madrid’s David Rivas. I got it in March 2015. The technique has to be learned, because they are two devices that come down to the driver’s floor, one for each foot, but it is more or less simple for those of us who have educated our brains to give our feet the same orders that the rest gives to their hands. I produced a documentary of the attempt and subsequent achievement, shot by the filmmaker Marc Guanyabens, entitled ‘L de libertad’ and which won a couple of Festivals, one in Seville and one in Palermo
Currently, you give lectures throughout Spain. How would you summarize your message?
I’ve been with them for six years now and I’m very happy. I have already surpassed 150, in front of more than 25,000 people, between Spain, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina. We have received several awards for her and until an Honorary Doctorate in Mexico City, in May 2017. It’s called From Head toToe, because it invites a trip that starts from my feet and sets course for the head… of all present. It is a very powerful message because it does not gravitate around the speaker and his casuistic, but reviews a series of social paradigms and projects several reflections that make each attendee the unique protagonist of the conference. And there, looking at each of us within us, we will find the necessary motivation. The motivation is not to admire the other; at best, we’ll talk about inspiration there. But motivation, like most answers to questions and solutions to problems, dwell within each of us.
It’s clear you’re the man of challenges. Any new challenges or adventures in sight?
The challenges are overrated or, rather, poorly focused. It has much more merit to fill with content and constructive intent every day of our lives – or almost all, at least – than to go around the world by skating on its back, to say a boutade. I try to meet that daily challenge and, doing so, life takes you where it is to take you, then has more or less impact and impact.
If you had in front of you a person with a big dream like yours who had to overcome a difficulty like yours, what would you say to him?
I think what we have to say to each other, we all have to say. Everyone, not just the 10th of Humanity, the 100, we are people with disabilities. And I don’t mean it in a poetic sense. I affirm it from the absolute prose. Disability is not functional diversity, no different abilities, or any other goodism that cares for the ear and neglects progress. We will move forward from the conceptual and the next concept should be to consider disability as what it is… Like an imperfection. And since the perfect human being is not yet born, nor is it expected, we are all imperfect and we are all people with disabilities. As soon as we assume and internalize it, as soon as we stop combining disability in the third person and do it first, we will realize that there is nothing to integrate and there is much to live with. To live with everyone, let us be as we are and have the circumstances and reality that each of us has touched, warning us as complements to each other and always as active for ourselves and for the whole. Because the only collective that is really human and, in the face of this, all we can say to each other is that we are responsibly courageous in recovering the certainty that everyone’s future depends on each one and, therefore, we must all know it. From head to toe, of course.