- She is a sister and a daughter.
- She is the first low vision doctor in Spain.
- She won the titles of various Duathlon and Triathlon champions.
“Me hypermetropia, astigmatism, nystagmus, and foveal hypoplasia. But I do a lot of things.”
“Are all these what albinism brings to you?”
“Yes. There are different types of albinism so I have the one which affects more the sight.”
This is the conversation with Susana Rodriguez Gacio.
It’s hard to imagine that Susana is an athlete and a doctor after knowing her eye condition since both competences could be rarely achieved simultaneously by even versatile people with normal eye condition, especially when it comes to multisport competitions like Duathlon and Triathlon. By now Susana just remain 5-8% vision, decreased from 10% when she was born. She never felt unfortunate even if she is the only one in her family with albinism. “I like to be as I am! I would not change it.” She said.
Perhaps it is her positive attitude that greatly supported her to achieve her dream. Accordingly, she fights against the prevailing prejudice with prominent results. Below are the games which Susana participated and won champions among more than 30 competitions she attended since 2010:
- 2018 Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia
- 2016 Aviles ITU Duathlon World Championships
- 2015 ESP Triathlon National Championships
- 2015 Madrid ITU World Paratriathlon Event
- 2015 Alcobendas ETU Sprint and Standard Distance Duathlon European Championships
- 2014 Kitzbühel ETU Triathlon European Championships
- 2014 Pontevedra ITU Duathlon World Championships
- 2014 Besançon ITU World Paratriathlon Event
- 2014 Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon Event
- 2013 Madrid ITU Paratriathlon International Event
- 2012 Barfoot and Thompson World Triathlon Grand Final Auckland
- 2012 Nancy ITU Duathlon World Championships
- 2012 ITU World Triathlon Madrid
- 2011 Gijon ITU Duathlon World Championships
- 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series Madrid
- 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series London
In April 2017, on the Gold Coast Australia held the World Series of paratriathlon, where Susana marked her debut as the silver medal winner in the category PTVI (for visually impaired athletes) accompanied by her guide, Mabel Gallardo. Her next step will be 2017 Soria European Duathlon championships 29th April and 13th May Yokohama World Paratriathlon series.
Lack of skin pigmentation makes for more susceptibility to sunburn and skin cancers caused by ultraviolet rays despite the albinism types. Therefore, sunglasses and sunscreen become essential equipment for Susana to train outdoors. Susana additionally wears special glasses, use screen reader ZoomText and video magnifier Snow 7 HD to read and work. With built-in screen magnifier in iPhone assistive technology, Susana can comfortably use personal communication tools, send text messages to friends and share interesting moments online. It’s hardly to perceive her as a low vision person when chatting through WhatsApp.
Since there already is a pair of optical glasses, why would a video magnifier be necessary?
Susana responded, “For example, I need to read in a book and copy things to computer to prepare PowerPoint presentations. I find very uncomfortable to put my reading glasses, read, take them put, put my daily life glasses write in computer. With reading glasses you need to get 4 cm near to the paper. And the neck then is painful.” To ease neck indisposition, she decided to purchase a video magnifier with reading stand. She might obtain information through recommendation from her friends or sales, however, different with what we assumed, she unexpectedly searched the product through YouTube on her own:
“I first looked for electronic devices once was selling at the moment and was not convinced by any, so then I went to YouTube and wrote ‘Lupa electronica’. And the first video was Snow 7 HD, like 3 minutes, so then I put snow 7 HD in Google.”
Just as we cannot imagine how she searched the product through the video website, it is hard to know how she managed to finish her college education.
Histology, dermatology and other subjects requiring image contents or microscope observation were the ones that cost her most in the study, not to mention the simultaneous preparation for other competitions she completed, Rio Games included, which she called “once in a lifetime”. In 2016, Susana chose the service of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of the Clinical Hospital of Santiago after being the first person in Galicia (and the second in Spain) with less than 7% vision graduated in Medicine.
Those who suffer severe visual impairment can also enjoy a great life by adopting new technologies, and even surpass most people with more incredible achievement. Following her father’s footstep who is also a doctor while facing the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Susana is exploring her new life.
“People sometimes may question my competence due to my limited vision. What I do is to redouble my efforts.”She emphasized.