Elena competes in track and field, representing Spain in the Paralympics in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Born with a degenerative visual condition, she qualifies for the T12/B2 categories.
Elena is known for her remarkable versatility as she has competed in long jump, 100 metres and marathon. Among her best Olympic results are silver in the 1500 metres in 2012 with a time of 4:43:53. In 2016 she took gold in the marathon, winning by over five minutes in 3:01:43.
In addition to paralympic honours, Elena has competed nationally and internationally. She took a silver in the T12 1500m at the 2011 IPC World Athletics Championships. At the 2011 IBSA World Games Athletics in São Paulo, she finished third in the 800 meter T12 event. She competed in the Spanish national championships in 2013, where she won gold medal in the 1500 meters. In July 2013, Elena participated in the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships.
Elena has been presented with the Special Award of the city of Castelldefels in Spain in recognition of the values of liberty, equality, solidarity, progress and civility. In 2016 she was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit of Spain. She added this to the Silver Medal she was awarded in 2013.
In 2016 she was named Best Athlete of Vic, Spain.
Elena stopped drinking dairy milk in 2008 and then gradually started to leave meat and sugar out of her diet. “I went to a naturopathic doctor and he encouraged me to eat only fruit for a week, and then start with a vegan diet” she says. “I thought It would be impossible to complete my training sessions having only eaten fruit.”
The reality was very different.
“ I tried it and it was the opposite, I had more energy, vitality and I felt super good. I started to feel much better and the workouts were superb. Then, when you find out what the food industry does to animals, you just convince yourself to continue with the lifestyle. They tell me I’m crazy but my results have endorsed my decision.”
“I eat a lot with smoothies and fruit, which have a lot of protein, seaweed and spirulina. I like superfoods and smoothies, because they are easy to digest. They have all the nutrients and give you everything you need to perform. “ Unusually for a marathon runner, Elena is not a big fan of pasta and thinks the benefit of it is overstated.
“When travelling I pack as many clothes as food in my suitcase, just in case. In the Olympic Villas there is usually a variety of food from all continents, countries and different cultures. If I find food I eat it, and if not, I eat what I have in my suitcase.”
This fuels her phenomenal training. She loves fast series track workouts to compliment the long distances she runs.
“Consistency is the most powerful tool that I think runners can have. Also persevere, be patient, always listen to the body and never give up.”
Running against the grain
Elena has found that her veganism is unusual in the circles in which she moves, and she often attracts skepticism.
“It is almost harder to have to explain to people that you are vegan than to have to beat a very strong opponent” she says. “You have to be very convinced and know that what you do is really working. If it were for the rest of the people around me, both family and doctors, they would make me believe that I am the one going against the current. “
Undeterred, Elena continues to eat what she knows best serves her phenomenal performances. She also, as well as working in education and physical education, is studying for a Masters degree in Neuropsychology. She is also finding out more about food.
“Something I am really interested about is in the link to the food we eat. We see that there are more and more diseases like ADHD, depression, and many intestinal problems. We live in a society in which food is increasingly industrialized and processed, with many additives, sugars and gluten. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that we have it for everything.
“All this influences our emotions because it is what we have inside; that’s why they say that the stomach is our second brain. In the end, I really like to link the theme of emotions, concentration, children, education, depressions … In short, raise awareness of all this with what we eat.”