The Lanzarote-born paratriathlete has many options to compete in another Olympic Games
At the age of 24, his life was turned upside down after a tragic motorbike accident in which he lost half of his left leg. However, for Lionel Morales, who by that time had already achieved runner-up position in the Spanish junior boxing championship, this did not mean the end of sport, but rather the search for new sporting objectives.
He started with swimming and then made the leap to paratriathlon. It is in this sport that he has managed to stand out internationally and his trophy cabinet already displays an Olympic diploma obtained at the Rio 2016 Olympics, as well as trophies from several world, European and national championships. Lionel will be looking to repeat his Olympic experience in Paris 2024 and it’s this opportunity he’s been preparing for everyday in the sea and on the roads and avenues of his native island, Lanzarote.
Lionel Morales has had a year packed with sporting events because he knew that this year we had to seek the best position in the ranking to qualify for Paris. Now he’s in a position to choose the events he wants to compete in during 2023: “We need to look really closely at what we’re going to do and where we’re going to be. We start scoring for the Olympic Games in July, but it’s just been confirmed that the European Championships in Madrid will be held a month before, which also counts toward Paris. So, we’ll be starting with this European event and then we’ll put the focus on the World Series and the grand finale, which is Pontevedra.“
I am privileged to be able to train on the island all year round and not be affected by the changing seasons.
His achievements this season include second place in the Paratriathlon World Championships, first place in the Paratriathlon World Cup, podium finishes in three Paratriathlon World Series events with two gold medals, and two Spanish Paratriathlon Championships. These records have led him to top the world ranking in the PTS2 category. This year, together with the rest of the Spanish paratriathlon team, he also received a tribute from Spain’s Consejo Superior de Deportes for being a medallist at the Abu Dhabi World Championships.
The paratriathlete says that part of his sporting success is thanks to the place where he lives, “I am privileged to be able to train on the island all year round and not be affected by the changing seasons. I have colleagues on the mainland who have to start swimming in wetsuits from October onwards and this year, for example, even though it’s December, I haven’t had to wear one yet.”
For Lionel, the island is a place with no barriers and is suitable for all types of athletes who want to come to train or compete. “I think I am the best example to demonstrate that Lanzarote is prepared for adapted sport: good roads with incredible landscapes, wide avenues, and a sea that I can easily access from different places.” In Lionel’s suitcase, he always carries a flag of his island, which he proudly displays at national and international events.
Lionel will turn 50 next February, but this will only reflect a change in his age because he still has the same desire to train and compete in paratriathlon that he had in his early days. “Age isn’t an impediment. On the contrary, I take it as a positive thing because of all the experience I’ve gained and being able to look back and feel proud of what I’ve achieved.”