Spanish Paralympian splits powerlifting with acting career
Spanish powerlifter Loida Zabala is training hard for her fourth Paralympic Games. But now she has to split her time with a new career - acting.
Zabala is the star of FUERZA (‘Strength’, in English), a film directed by Carla Alonso which follows the life of the powerlifter to show the challenge she faces as an athlete and a person with a disability.
The movie ignited in Zabala the passion for acting and she decided to continue taking lessons with the aim of improving her skills.
As those who watched FUERZA will tell, Zabala is not the kind of person who takes no for an answer.
“The main message I would like to share with the film is that there are no limits to achieving goals, no matter if you can walk or not,” she said.
“Sometimes we stop to fight for our goals because we think that they are impossible to achieve, but if you are very passionate about something, you work hard and enjoy the work you will get them for sure."
Zabala lost the mobility of her legs when she was 11 due to a spinal infection. After a year, she started to practice with dumbbells as therapy, until she discovered Para powerlifting when she was 18 and her life changed completely.
Three years on and the athlete was representing Spain at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, where she finished seventh in the women’s up to 48kg category.
Zabala also competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016 achieving a fifth place in both Games.
A gold lift
FUERZA was filmed in Madrid and Losar de la Vera, Loida’s hometown, and launched in 2018. That same year, the documentary was awarded the Best Film or Short Film shot in Madrid at the IX Collado Villalba International Film Festival on Disability.
But for Zabala, the biggest prize has been the opportunity to share her message of perseverance.
“My favourite part of starring the documentary was the lecture I gave at the Nino Jesus Hospital in Madrid, to children who were undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy. It was really special to be able to share my message with them."
Alonso has also been awarded for FUERZA. She won the Best Director prize at the 2018 ANEC Film Festival on Disability in Valencia.
“For me, this is not a documentary about someone with a disability. The documentary is about someone who works hard to achieve her goals,” Alonso said in her winner’s speech.
Meanwhile, Zabala has turned her focus back to Para powerlifting and the Tokyo 2020 Games – postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has set clear targets for herself. The podium in Japan is one of them.
“Now I have two main goals. One is to get a medal at the Paralympic Games. The other is to continue growing as an actress. I want to prove that everything is possible,” Zabala said.