IN PERSON: The Bond That Can’t Be Broken
Volunteer blogger Valerie Cox uncovers a story of intense brotherly love at Yas Marina Circuit in the cycling race.
“Some people think it’s a bad thing when you say you have a brother with disabilities, but he has been the single most amazing thing in my life.”
Rut Elias is a coach for the Mexican cycling team, and I see him as their gold medal rider comes off the course. Alejandro Elias has won two gold medals and one silver, and his brother/coach and family are all there to give him generous hugs.
From Chihuahua, Mexico, Rut tells me their story.
“Alejandro has been riding bicycles his entire life, started road riding about eight years ago, but officially competing two years ago. He is very disciplined and strong,” he said. “I was so nervous while he was on the track, as this is a long way for him to travel and the Games are enormous. I could see he was not following his proper technique but was relieved when he self-corrected; he’s very good at evaluating and correcting when he needs to. Partly it’s just him, his self-discipline, but also he trains six days a week: two days in the gym and four days on his bike. He also has a former Olympic cyclist as an additional coach back in Mexico, so he has lots of expertise helping him out.”
Rut continues: “We got started riding as a family thing, the three brothers. Alejandro actually got me into it when I was 13 and we lived in San Diego – that was road riding, just for a hobby. Then we moved to El Paso Texas and Alejandro got involved with Special Olympics basketball, and I trained as a coach. When we moved back to Chihuahua he started training to compete!
“To be here as a coach and as a brother has been wonderful. But also the nerves - I was just shaking. I could only see him for about 50 seconds, then the riders disappear for about seven minutes during each lap, and I would be like, ‘Ok, ok, he’s doing ok but I wish I could see what’s happening on the rest of the track.’ This track is amazing compared to anything we have ever ridden on. We are so impressed with Abu Dhabi and how the government really takes care of their citizens. And they do everything right, no half measures. It is mind-blowing, we are just baffled by how wonderful everything is. It is top notch. When the people talk about how they love the Father of the Nation, Sheik Zayed, you can tell they really mean it; it gives me goosebumps.”
“I am so lucky to have Alejandro in my life, as a brother, a mentor. Some people think it’s a bad thing when you say you have a brother with disabilities, but he has been the single most amazing thing in my life. He is the biggest blessing in my life and in my family’s lives. He sees the world in a different way, more compassionate and understanding. I would be a very different person without him.”
Rut Elias is the taller coach/brother, Alejandro Elias the cyclist. The additional man in the photo is their father.