Pedro Sottomayor is one of the 'veterans' of the EDGA circuit, he came to play several times in Italy, other times I went to play in Portugal, other times we met in other countries. Always smiling, always accompanied by his wife Margarida, who is also a cheerful and friendly person.
They are a really good couple, with whom I had a great time both on the pitch and after the match, speaking a little in English, a little in Portuguese and a little in Italian. That's what happens in EDGA races, and that's the beauty of these races.
I'll tell you the story of him. At 28, Pedro Sottomayor had his life turned upside down. One afternoon, in a doctor's office, he received a diagnosis that he never wanted to receive. Pedro was already married to Margarida, had two young children Ana and João, had started a promising career in real estate and played golf.
Pedro Sottomayor, history
He started with something wrong with his right leg, he had fallen on a couple of occasions. Pedro remembers a person who looked at him derisively, mistaking him for a drunk. Pedro got up and continued on his way, not thinking about it anymore.
It was during a cycling race with his brother-in-law and some friends that Pedro realized that it could be serious: “I was with my brother-in-law on a bicycle, and everyone overtook me so easily… at first I thought it was the bike's fault.
After the race I went to the shop claiming that the bike had mechanical problems. But it wasn't the bike that didn't work well. It was me" Pedro decided to go to a doctor. Multiple sclerosis affects 2.3 million people worldwide.
“When they gave me the diagnosis, they said - You have a disease that has no cure and you have to live with it for the rest of your life. - It was a shock, ”says Pedro. “Right after that, I felt a great flush of heat, my skin was so hott I could cook an egg in it.
On my way home, I tried to breathe slowly to calm down, because I wanted to explode ”. Then the will to live won, and Pedro started looking to the future again: "I thought, if I can't do anything to change the situation, I have to live with it and try to live better"
"What I wanted was another ten years of quality life, to be able to educate my children and put my life in order." Then he smiles, "Now that it's gone, I'll ask for another twenty years, and then I'll ask for another few years"
Pedro built his life after his diagnosis: he built a nice house with his family, which is adapted to his condition, a fulfilling professional life, he has good friends, an active social life and, of course, sports. Initially it was para-dressage, which Pedro regards as a form of therapy.
"It's very good for the upper body because the movement you do when you ride, it's like the movement of walking, it's good for the muscles." But there was more to it than the physical benefits, as he soon discovered.
When Pedro was on horseback, he felt “normal” and no one realized that he was disabled: “I have friends who own horses. I remember meeting one of these, I had known him for a long time. We started talking on the back of our horses and finally when he saw my wheelchair he was stunned, he couldn't believe it was mine. It was a good feeling ”.