Judo: The goosebumps of Sheyla Hernández in Santiago 2023
Date: November 21, 2023
The gold medal of Sheyla Hernández on Day 2 of the Judo competition in the Para PanAmerican Games – Santiago 2023 was a triumph of persistence. The Havana girl was the first judoka to break the Brazilian hegemony, defeating the Brazilian Meg Emmerich in the final of the +70kg category.
The happiness on her face, with a big smile after the fight, was the sign that something great just happened on her way to Paris 2024.
“I have goosebumps all over! It is my first participation at the Para PanAmerican Games, and winning gold is almost a dream. Well, I had prepared myself for this battle for a long time, and I was sure that I would come up with a good result. This was the third time that I fought with Meg, and the first two I lost. So, the third time was for good!”, started Sheyla.
Sheyla, 22, will be 23 on December 4th. She is currently studying at the university, almost graduating in physical and cultural sports. She has two training sessions per day, two hours each, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, resting only on Sunday, and she will deliver her thesis until the end of the year. Her time is spent between study and training, but she always takes a careful look at the calendar until the end of the Road to Paris 2024.
“We will be for sure in the 2023 IBSA Judo Heidelberg Grand Prix, and we are doing everything to be in Tiblisi too. My qualification put me in a very stable position. I am in the 5th position on the Paralympic Ranking List, and I believe that with these two tournaments until the end of the qualification process, I will keep my slot for the next Paralympic Games”.
Sheyla was 11 years old when she got the visit from people to look for Judo players. She didn’t know anything about the sport, but then some magic happened. “I loved Judo from the first moment I practiced. Things were going great for me, and because I loved the sport so much, I started to learn very quickly every move I needed to know. But my first international competition only came much later. It was in 2020 at the IBSA Judo Baku Grand Prix, Azerbaijan”. Actually, it was a very special place for Sheyla because two years later, in 2022, she got the silver medal at the IBSA Judo World Championships. Later this year, at the IBSA World Games, Sheyla got the bronze medal.
“This gold medal is very special to me. I can’t wait to get home and show it to everybody!”