Idalis Velazquez: A Gold Medalist Athlete Conquering the Fields of Life!

idalis_spread2Publication: Natural Muscle Magazine – 2013 ©

By Carolina Gonzalez
Photography by Carolina Gonzalez and Alex Gonzalez
Page layout by Alex Gonzalez

Embracing an integrated active lifestyle has been proven to be quite the challenge for most people; but embracing it despite life-threatening obstacles is a difficult challenge especially for those who have been born to be active, to be champions, and to be the best!

Idalis Velazquez, also known as Idalis Quiles, used to be a professional track and field competitor who broke records representing Puerto Rico, and during the last years of her athletic career, she was a member of the Florida Atlantic University team in The United States. Now, at age 27, Idalis is a wife, a mother, and after a life-threatening incident, she has become a certified personal trainer whose goal is to share her knowledge, and invite women to get out of their comfort zone, to get healthy, stronger inside and out, and get their lives back.

Dozens of medals, titles, and scholarships are a testimony of her dedication and winning nature. She was a child when she began dreaming of being a champion. “Sports gave me a purpose and a goal in life. Tennis was one of the first sports that I played at a competitive level, and by age eleven I played nationals and got second place in doubles. Around that time I was selected to attend the best School of Sports in Salinas, Puerto Rico, and I decided to also compete in high impact sports like Judo, and Track and Field – which includes distance running, hurdles, high jump, long jump, and other events.”

Idalis’ first years were as bright as gold, and so was her entire athletic career. She won multiple medals. Among those she received, it is important to mention three gold medals in 1996: 80 meters, high jump, and pentathlon – a track and field competition in which each participant competes in five events. The same year, Idalis won bronze at the Rhode Island Nationals in Judo.

In 1999, while still competing at doubles in Tennis and winning second place, Idalis became, once again, the National Champion in High Jump. For over a decade she competed at dozens of sports events around the world; including Heptathlons – 7 Track and Field events. Universities in The United States and Puerto Rico wanted her, and world-known companies wanted to sponsor her.

From 2002 until 2005 Idalis attended Turabo University, in PR, under a scholarship that supports female athletes. The list of titles is impressive, and her achievements have become landmarks for others as she holds records as well. In 2003 she set the National record in Long Jump with 6.07 meters. Around that time, she also became the first Puerto Rican female competitor to score over 5000 points at the Heptathlon event during the Pan-American Juvenile games, while setting the third-best record in the country. Even Coca-Cola Company, which used to sponsor only male athletes on the Island, decided to sponsor Idalis.

But in 2005 Idalis was forced to take a break from the world of sports because of a hamstring injury and severe neck pain due to a previous car accident. “According to the doctor, I should stop playing sports!” The news did not settle well with Idalis and her coaches; but during that summer, which felt like her first vacation in years, Idalis was healing all right, and met the love of her life. Soon after, she moved to South Florida, got married, and started a family. Her first daughter was born in 2006.

Quickly in 2007 Idalis found herself in the middle of a powerful comeback as part of the FAU Owl team. “I was an honor roll athlete student with a full scholarship, and on February 8th, 2008 I broke another record, this time the FAU record at the Indoor Track and Field Long Jump Event: 05.77m.

With 11 gold, 5 silver, and 3 bronze medals as part of her national resume, along with the FAU record, and her National Record in PR still standing, Idalis’ athletic career was on the right track.

But in 2009 Idalis world changed in a matter of hours. She suffered a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage while pregnant with her second daughter. This type of bleeding, also known as SAH, occurs in the subarachnoid space in the brain, and it is considered a form of stroke that can lead to death or severe disability. “I was in the best shape of my life prior to this incident. I had improved my nutrition; I had great endurance, stamina and speed. I was looking forward to being a champion at big international competitions; but all of the sudden I was taken to the ER with my life at risk. Doctors did not know what caused the bleeding; but the prognosis was devastating for my athletic career. I was at the hospital for a week, and for a year and a half I lived under a cloud of fear because it could happen again.”

After this occurrence and an MRI, Idalis was instructed to avoid high impact sports. “It was a very difficult time for us, and it took me quite some time to accept the fact that sports – at a competitive level – would not be a part of my life anymore.” Moments of deep sadness made Idalis healing process longer. She was devastated; but with the support of her husband and looking forward to her daughters’ future, she refocused her energy and discovered a new way to become active and remain athletic. “We were, and we are extremely grateful that I am alive, and that my second child did not suffer because of it. As a result, I found the strength to realize that although Track and Field is my passion and I miss it a lot, I was still full of life. So now I have modified my focus. My goal is to be a positive influence to others, while embracing a more balanced and integrated lifestyle.”

By incorporating every day exercise routines that challenge the body as a whole, and by maintaining a nourishing nutrition, Idalis has found a positive balance because it is still challenging but not tremendously demanding. “Once a doctor gave me a green light to play sports again, I tailored my training and made it suitable for my new present. Not because I was not competing, I was going to stop living; therefore, now I ‘Live Life in Shape’. I adapted myself to a new training routine and a lifestyle that still includes my passion for sports while keeping in mind that the goal is to be healthy and happy.”

While during a Track and Field competition there is always a finish line to be crossed or a time to be surpassed; nowadays, Idalis is embracing the finish lines of everyday life. “Teaching others what I know makes me happy. Setting targets and achieving them is still very rewarding, no matter how big or small they are. I am not a professional athlete anymore; but I am still an athlete and I train like one. It is my nature to try to be the best I can be, in any field. I can ignite the same fire in others who want to achieve their wellness and athletic purposes. I did not settle. I am a winner and I want others to be winners. We can all achieve our goals.”

Currently, Idalis Velazquez, also known as IVFitness, is coaching women in South Florida. But her ambition is to spark the athletic light of millions of people. With confidence, we can all visualize her dreams becoming a reality.

Follow Idalis Velazquez via Social Media under @IVFitness