Venezuela's Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta is his nation's lone representative at the Sochi Olympic Games. That's impressive enough, but what's even more impressive is that Pardo won his greatest battle when he was a child.
Pardo, now 43, was 8 when doctors discovered a brain tumor and gave him only three months to live. He underwent major surgery and developed hemiplegia, a paralysis of the left side of his body. He learned to walk again.
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Pardo began to ski recreationally only in 1988. His career in finance allowed him to travel to Switzerland, Austria, and other locations far more hospitable for skiing than Venezuela. He recently lost his job, which allowed him the freedom to pursue skiing full time.
"Before, I didn't have neither the time nor the resources, I had to work," he said in a translated interview. "I work in the financial area, and with the paralyzation of the stock markets, I became unemployed, so I said to myself, 'This is the moment to fulfil my dream.'"
Pardo's exuberance at entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony was one of the high moments of the athletes' march — and now the world knows why.
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