EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- 50-year-old Juaisca Rodriguez trains 5 to 6 hours a day. Even more impressive? She's a paraplegic - missing her right arm and leg, as well as all fingers on her left hand. That doesn't slow her down a bit, as she trains for the World Triathlon Championships. She does it all - cycling, swimming, and running.
Rodriguez sat down with us at Armijo pool, downtown. Her smile, and her energy, are contagious. She shares her excitement to having been admitted this year to racing internationally by World Triathlon, igniting her hopes of racing in the Paris 2024 Paralympics. She completed her first international race, the World Cup Long Beach, where she won silver and a 7th place world ranking.
Juaisca had her right leg and arm amputated, as well as fingers and thumb on her left side, after an aggressive meningitis illness at the age of 23. She says a strong mind helped her overcome obstacles, and stay positive. Not only did she re-learn how to walk, run, and ride a bike - she's a competitor. She's made modifications to her bike, so she can properly balance. It's a complicated process, as the bike must now be approved for competition.
Juaisca is Venezuelan, but lives in El Paso and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. She would represent Team USA at the 2024 Paralympics. There are other challenges:
"Normally, a high-performance athlete if they have a team behind them, they don't have to work. But that's not my case. Since I'm not a citizen yet they don't provide me with any type of funding," she says. Travel, training and equipment are expensive. Juaisca speaks German, Spanish and French and works part time as a translator when she's not training. She's asking the community for help.
Her GoFundMe link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/my-journey-on-the-road-games-paris-2024
"If they are cheering me on, thank you! Believe me, you are going to be in my mind in order to get on the podium and bring home the gold!"