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Vatican

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Pope Francis

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Terrorist attack victim: “Being strong is your only option”

2015-07-04

On October 17, 1991, the Spanish terrorist group ETA planted a bomb under the her mother's car. The explosion mutilated a 12-year-old girl and took her mother's arm and leg. More than two decades have passed since the tragedy, and now that girl is speaking about how she has moved forward in life.

IRENE VILLA
Bombing victim and paralympic athlete
"I always say you do not know how strong you are until being strong is your only option. When you have no choice, you discover a stronger and more powerful 'me.' You just have to look forward with optimism and joy. The most important thing in life is happiness. Being alive, that's the most important thing. Starting from scratch is often unavoidable because of situations or tragedies that occur. But it is never too late to start a life of truth and be grateful for what you have and to fight.”

She said she doesn't hold a grudge against anyone and that sports helped her find the strength to not sink into sadness. She started with fencing, then canoeing. Today, she competes internationally as a skier

IRENE VILLA
Bombing victim and paralympic athlete
"There were many falls, many disappointments, many scary moments, but we finally got to enter many races. The greatest pride was to create the first skiing team in the world for women in wheelchairs. Skiing is an individual sport, but we created a team of women and that has been a benchmark for others with disabilities.”

She said that sports helped her mind "get out of the tunnel.” She shared her experiences during an international seminar about the role of coaches held at the Vatican.

IRENE VILLA
Bombing victim and paralympic athlete
"I believe that sports are a universal language that we all understand. They also highlight human values, and show that we can do anything with sacrifice, effort, and struggle. They are about is teamwork and the values of life.”

She has continued to achieve a lot in her life beyond her athletic career, despite the horrible terrorist attack. Irene Villa is also a journalist, writer, role-model, and proof that evil never has the last word.


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