There is little Sardinian in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and to proudly claim that affiliation is Daniel Dean Pembroke, the thirty-year-old English gold medalist cat. F13 in the spear. Sardinian adopted For sporting and heart reasons, Daniel is still in Japan with his country’s Paralympic team, waiting to return to England to hug his Sardinian partner, Martina Mola. Sifting through Daniel’s biography seems to see the same parable for javelin throwing, from a semi-Olympic athlete until his retirement in 2013, due to a serious injury. Then rebirth, with a new “release” starting straight from Cala Gonone.
“Dan started playing the javelin at the age of 11, and has set several world records for juniors,” says Martina. “He was on the cusp of qualifying for the 2012 Tokyo Olympics, and at the time retinitis pigmentosa didn’t stop him from competing with the healthy ones.”
But as in a beautiful and tragic story, Daniel’s career was interrupted by a ruptured elbow ligament, a few months before the Olympics. “The doctors told him he only had a 50% chance of recovering which made him drop out of training.”
It was 2013 and he used this break to travel: he randomly pointed his finger on the map and found Sardinia, an island unknown to him.
“When he landed in Olbia – continues Martina – the host of the land advised him to visit the villages of Cala Gonone, and there was born a love for our land.”
From that moment on, the chances of returning to the land of Sardinia were repeated several times, until the decision, in 2015, to stay in Sardinia for 6 months.
“In England I was an athlete deserted and lost myself – at Cala Gonone – clearing my mind and my bad thoughts, working as a fitness coach and spending long days kayaking in the bays,” said Daniel.
Having dwelt in the small village of Dorgali, Daniel immediately captures the interest and sympathy of Polisportiva Gonone-Dorgali, with whom he will join Fidal, to find motivation for training.
“In one of his first competitive rounds – says Martina – he made a historic launch that established the record for Sardinia, which for several years remained undefeated. We’ve never seen anything like this in Sardinia! And always in 2015 I met him and we started our relationship.”
Meanwhile, Daniel’s poor eyesight had worsened to the point of giving up his athletic ambitions. “We decided to take a break and travel the world for 4 years: New Zealand, Australia, until we recovered in England two years ago.” The rest is recent history, the desire to start over as a Paralympic athlete and then succeed, once again, with that jump that earned him the gold medal, setting a new Paralympic world record: 69.52 metres, nearly four meters above the previous record.
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