London: Spanish Paralympic swimmer Sebastian Rodriguez was sentenced to 84 years in jail in 1985 for his part in the left-wing militant murder of a businessman, but on Saturday he won his second silver medal of the London Games in the 200 metres freestyle.
Rodriguez was a member of ultra left-wing group Grapo, which was behind the murder of Rafael Padura, a Spanish business leader.
His journey from convict to Paralympian began when he embarked on an extended hunger strike while in jail that resulted in him losing the use of his legs.
Given parole in 1994, Rodriguez was pardoned by the Spanish government five years ago despite protests from the victim’s family.
Rodriguez made his Paralympic debut in 2000, when he won five gold medals in the Sydney Games. But at the time he told Games officials he had lost the use of his legs in a car accident.
When his violent past emerged after the Games, it led to calls for him to be stripped of his medals, before it was decided that no rules had been broken. He went on to win another seven medals at the Athens and Beijing Games.
He is now determined not to let his history to dog his sporting career. “The past cannot be erased. There is no use in beating me in the chest and demanding that I repent,” Rodriguez has been previously reported as saying.
He was soundly beaten into second place on Saturday by Brazil’s Daniel Dias, who streaked away from the field to win comfortably, just as he did in the 50 metre freestyle on Thursday.