The first time Riverview resident Emanuel Martinez-Mulero attempted the sport of archery, he quit after the first day because it caused finger pain from drawing the bow. He was 6 years old at the time.
Luckily, he isn’t a quitter and gave it another go, because now, at 14, he won a silver medal at this year’s Move United Junior Nationals in Denver, Colorado. Martinez-Mulero was recognized for his skill with a compound bow in the U15 age bracket. The Move United Junior Nationals, in its 37th year, is North America’s oldest and largest continually held competitive sports event for athletes with disabilities, and contested sports include archery, para-triathlon, para-powerlifting, shooting, swimming and track and field events.
“I encouraged Emanuel to try archery again, and I’m glad I did,” said mom Maria Mulero.
Emanuel, an eighth-grade student who attends Florida Virtual School, owns his own bow and said he now uses a finger release to help him grip the bowstring. He practices three times a week to hone his skills.
“I was really happy that I won a medal in my first big competition,” he said.
Kira Stevens also won big at the event. She won 12 gold medals (six in track and field and six in swimming). She doesn’t let her cerebral palsy slow her down, and she dreams of making the 2024 Paralympic team. “I’m going to be working really hard to make my dream a reality,” Stevens said.
In total, six athletes from Hillsborough County took home 28 gold, seven silver and two bronze medals while setting five national records. Other athletes were J.T. Gerstner (track and field, age 11), Dani Kanas (track and field, age 16), Logan Krepop (track and field, age 19), Stevens (swimming and track and field, age 17) and Momo Sutton (swimming and track and field, age 14). Krepop was also honored with the Spirit of Excellence award for exemplifying sportsmanship, leadership and athletic achievement.
All six athletes participate in Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation’s adaptive sports, a signature program that provides year-round sports and recreation to promote healthy lifestyles and recreational and competitive sports opportunities.
For more information about Hillsborough County adaptive sports, visit https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/recreation-and-culture/sports-and-athletics/hc-adaptive-sports or call 744-5307. For more information about the Move United Junior Nationals, visit www.moveunitedsports.org.