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Joana Graça and Paulo Nunes, by Air and by Water

Joana Graça and Paulo Nunes met just like so many couples do: working. He was a captain working for TAP and she was a flight attendant. He was working for the Company since 1996, after three years at TAAG and she started working for TAP in 2006, recently graduated in Zootechnical Engineering. Empathy happened right away, but they had more in common. 

“We lived relatively close to each other, in Santo Estêvão, and the love for the countryside, nature and sports brought us even closer, until today”, says Joana to What’s|UP.

Nowadays, Joana and Paulo are a married couple,​ keep flying together and went even further with their shared passion for sports. Here, we talk specifically about a nautical sport, the Jetski. It was Paulo that transmitted this passion to Joana, considering that six years ago, she did​​n’t even know “what a Jetski” was. Today, they have a team - the Flyjet Racing Team – and they participate in national and international contests in their own categories- Paulo in Freestyle and Joana in Closed Course, Ski Ladies GP1 e Ski GP1.

"We believe that, together, we can go further."

 Paulo Nunes (Freestyle category)

Paulo found out about Jetski in 1989 and, quickly, gained a connection with the competition. He was a three-time Freestyle national champion, between the years of 2009 and 2011, won Bronze in the 2016 European Championship and ended in fourth place, in the same competition, in 2017.

Joana, on the other hand, began the "serious" competition in 2014, when she qualified in second place in Ski Ladies category. She was national champion in 2015 and 2017 and vice-champion in 2016. She ranked fifth in the 2015 European Championship and sixth the following years.

At the beginning of 2017, when it was the competition was clearly "serious", it took exceptional proportions. Joana Graça was invited by UIM – Union International Motonautique – to join the UIM-ABP World Championship in the Ski Ladies GP1 category. The eleventh place in the final ranking, in a competition where "only the Jetski world best" compete, may not have been the result she expected, but shows how much she learned in one year- her limitations and her strongest features- and it's, at the very least, rewarding.​

​​
 Joana Graça (Closed Course Category)

“To reach specific goals, it is necessar​y to go beyond all dedication.”

Sports and competition seem to be imprinted in TAP’s DNA. Many stories about athletes that wear TAP’s shirt, literally and figuratively, are stories about dedication – and even resilience -, competition and team work, motivation, and have been published​​ in What’s|UP. Stories such as the one about Joana Graça and Paulo Nunes, but also about other Employees, like Filipa Elvas and Manuel Machado, Ana Mota Veiga, Álvaro Leite, Jorge Paulo Pereira, Paulo Garção, Ângelo Felgueiras, Nuno Santos and João Cunha Rego, deserve to be told  such as, of course, other stories, that have not been told yet.

Paulo Nunes and Joana Graça know that it is not easy to conciliate professional life with the passion which drives them, that demands frequent and regular workouts, in and out of water, at home or in an accommodation. They are, however, far from being discouraged and have their goals well defined for this year. “Any athlete (and in our TAP family we do have some really good ones) knows exactly what I mean because, to reach specific goals, it is necessary to go beyond all dedication, and make a huge effort and deprivations in all kinds of levels”, says Paulo.

TAP also plays an important role, although symbolic, in the realization of the projects that Employees are passionate about. The support that is given – “precious” in Joana’s words – on easing the participation of these athletes in the competitions gives peace of mind to them, in managing their job and their passion, which would be, surely, much more difficult in any other way.

 

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