When the 2016 Paralympic Games open on September 7 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians will be cheering on one of their own: the world’s fastest visually impaired woman. Terezinha Guilhermina is a trichampion Paralympian, eight-time world champion, and nine-time Parapan American champion, who also holds the world record in the 100 m, 200 m, and 400 m T11 dash. T11 is the classification for totally blind athletes.
Born into poverty in Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil, with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited, degenerative eye disease that leads to a gradual loss of vision, Guilhermina has overcome many obstacles in life. One of 12 children, she was born with 95% loss of vision and her mother died when she was only 9 years old. When Guilhermina’s sister gave her a pair of used sneakers to run in a local race, she took to the track and has not looked back.
At the age of 26, Guilhermina completely lost her vision. “Before that, I could run alone. But the complete loss of vision made me understand that I would need to depend on someone running with me.”
As a Paralympic champion, her accomplishments are impressive. At the Rio 2016 Paralympics, she will defend her gold medal in the 100 m and 200 m from the 2012 London Paralympics and will also compete in the 400 m and the 500 m 4x4 relay. Guilhermina came close to winning the 400 m in London, but she fell with her guide in the finishing straight. Yet, as she has done countless times, Guilhermina overcame this setback. She not only won gold, she set a new world record of 12.01 seconds in the 100 m the very next day—even though she was still sore from falling on the track.
“It was a feeling of indescribable accomplishment,” Guilhermina says. “All my dreams of becoming the world’s best were materialized when the Guinness Book of World Records listed me as the fastest blind athlete in the world.”
At the 46th São Paulo Radiological Meeting (JPR) 2016 in São Paulo, Brazil, held April 28 to May 1, 2016, Guilhermina was Konica Minolta Medical Imaging’s guest of honor at the JPR launch of the SONIMAGE HS1 compact ultrasound system. Guilhermina and her team, including her physiotherapist, were on hand to meet with attendees.
Guilhermina helped demonstrate the SONIMAGE HS1 hand-carried ultrasound system in Konica Minolta’s booth and had her shoulder, knees, legs, and arms scanned. According to Joan Toth, senior product marketing manager of the Americas at Konica Minolta Medical Imaging, “Although the MSK [musculoskeletal] market in Brazil is not as dedicated as it is here in the United States, we are seeing an interest in the SONIMAGE HS1 for this clinical use, along with vascular and anesthesia applications.”
“For high-performance athletes, having an accurate and quick diagnosis is extremely important so we can get the proper treatment,” Guilhermina says. “With quality diagnostics, we can prevent further injury; athletes can lose days, even weeks, of training if the proper diagnosis is not made.”
At age 37, Guilhermina is not slowing down. She says her race times are the best they’ve been her entire career. Known for her brightly colored blindfolds, Guilhermina has high expectations for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. “I hope to hear the Brazilian national anthem in all the events that I compete,” she proudly says. “I want to win gold and make these games even more memorable by trying to beat my world record.”
She even hopes to participate in the 2020 Tokyo games. Her advice to disabled children is to work hard, build a foundation for their own future, and remember that it is up to them to achieve their goals and dreams—no one will do it for them. For many people in Brazil and Paralympic athletes worldwide, Guilhermina is the embodiment of hard work and perseverance to achieve one’s dreams and goals. And she’ll be the first to tell you she is not yet done.
— Source: Konica Minolta