Cecilia Castro’s couch: “I want to be an Olympic champion”

Cecilia Castro (Madrid, 1997) will fulfill her dream of being an Olympian in Paris. The taekwondo player achieved qualification for the Games in the Pre-Olympic held last March at the Sports Complex Asics Arena in Sofia. She did it after beating the Croatian Doris Pole in a final match in which, with six seconds left, she lost 0-3. “She got nervous, she made a mistake going off the mat and I put an action on her right side,” she remembers. “I think she kept her concentration well, she knew how to manage it and, despite the nerves, stay calm under the stress, and achieve the goal,” recalls the protagonist in ‘Mark the difference’.

The feat has a long history because it was achieved in the same scenario where three years earlier she was deprived of a ticket to Tokyo 2020.. “On that occasion I was not so mentally prepared and my nerves played tricks on me. Now I had the experience of suffering a bad result and the same scenario. I worked on visualization and changing negative sensations to positive ones. Everything was guided by the work of a psychologist who helped me a lot,” he says. “I think taekwondo is 90% mental. All things being equal and in situations of such intensity, the head plays an important role. I have the misfortune of being the smallest (172 centimeters tall) of my weight (-67 kilos), but I have other qualities and I have to play my cards,” says the person who occupies the eleventh place in the world ranking.

Cecilia knows well what she is talking about because, in addition to being an elite athlete, she has a degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology and another in Health Sciences in the making.. “In daily work I can have certain routines that help me, but the truth is that just as I need a coach, I also need the figure of a sports psychologist. It is important that they give you tools to find solutions in certain situations and from the outside you can often see everything. clearer”, summarizes who sees himself in this world tomorrow.

family issue

Taekwondo entered Cecilia’s life through her family. “When I was little I did rhythmic gymnastics, but it wasn’t my thing. My brother (Jaime) and my friends at school did taekwondo, so I switched, I loved it and I got hooked,” she summarizes. He found a club in San Agustín del Guadalix, a municipality in the Madrid mountains of just 13,650 inhabitants, where he resides and has grown with the help of Cristian Seijo. “He is a coach who invests time and money in this sport, he does it from the heart, and I have to thank him for putting a lot of effort into me,” he says. “I am very comfortable with him and the need to go to a CAR has never arisen,” she asserts.

After standing out in junior categories, at an absolute level he has achieved a gold medal (2022) and a bronze (2018) in Europeans, a bronze (2022) in World Cups and a silver (2023) in European Games. The next challenge is to add the Olympic medal to the list and the first opportunity will be this summer. “I want to be an Olympic champion,” she says when questioned about her goals in Paris. “All the rivals will have a high level, so what I will demand of myself is to give everything in each fight. I want to finish and, regardless of whether I get a medal or not, feel that I have fought and that I am satisfied with my work,” she says.

In this exercise of putting herself in the situation, Javier Pérez Polo, her partner and also an Olympic taekwondo player, is helping her.. “He was like sparring in Rio and as a participant in Tokyo, so he has transmitted all that experience to me,” he confesses. “The fact that my partner is also dedicated to high-level sports makes us understand each other better when it comes to respecting schedules and listening to our bodies. “Then it’s true that we talk about taekwondo, obviously, but since everyone has their coach and their perceptions, we don’t really go into evaluating each other’s fights unless we ask each other’s opinions,” he says.

‘D-Day’ and ‘H Hour’

Cecilia has August 9 marked in red on her calendar, the date on which she competes. “I have already imagined myself competing. I try to see myself entering the stadium, warming up…”, warns who would like to be photographed in the Olympic Village with Rafa Nadal.

The aforementioned day will start at 9:00 and the final for gold will be at 9:23 p.m.. “There is a lot of time between fights and you have to plan. You can’t completely disconnect or be tense all the time because you’ll go crazy. I like to lie down and relax. I don’t get to sleep, but I do close my eyes to rest. “As I wear glasses, my eyes often get itchy or my head hurts in such large pavilions and with many people, so I try to find a place where I can be calm,” she confesses. “I try not to relax too much because if I don’t then I get down, so I get tense again long before the next fight. Little by little I get psyched up and I get better. And, if necessary, I even have a coffee “, he says between laughs.

Taekwondo has been part of the Olympic catalog since Sydney 2000 and Spain has a total of seven medals: one gold (Joel González), five silvers (Gabriel Esparza, Nico García, Brigitte Yagüe, Eva Calvo, Adriana Cerezo) and one bronze (Joel González). In Paris 2024 there will be four representatives: Adrián Vicente (-58 kg), Javier Pérez Polo (-68 kg), Adriana Cerezo (-49 kg) and Cecilia Castro (-67 kg). “We are going to get three medals,” Cecilia says very confidently.

A trunk with more memories than medals

Cecilia is a woman who makes a difference in the tapestry, where she has accumulated 33 medals to date. “I’m a bit of a mess and I have them all mixed up,” she confesses between laughs. “I have them all, but I give more importance to memories. I keep everything: press clippings, photographs, a diary where I write down my experiences and even a napkin where I wrote down something relevant at the time. Many times the moments and details mark you. more than the medals themselves,” he says. The same thing happens when choosing a fight.. “There are some that have impacted me more than the great victories. If I had to choose, I would tell you that I would take the bronze in the World Cup, the Olympic Qualifiers and a Grand Slam in China that I went to with my coach,” he summarizes.

A great flamenco fan, Cecilia remembers with humor the day she met her mother-in-law and her boyfriend’s grandmother. “We went to a tablao, but there was no one, we were alone. Suddenly a Korean woman appeared clapping and singing with a Korean accent. We weren’t learning anything. Javi’s grandmother, who had never been to a show like that, She looked at us in disbelief. It was a quite comical and surreal situation,” she says, laughing.

The Madrid native is also a great reader. “My father and my boyfriend really like Pérez Reverte and I became interested in his books because of them. I really like historical novels because they put you in a situation and reveal themes that I didn’t even know about,” he points out. “I’ve bought a zillion books to take to Paris, but I don’t know if I’ll have free time for that much. Every time I see them it seems like they’re saying to me: Read to me!”, he discovers. If they are not books, they will be series. “I’m looking forward to seeing the third season of ‘The Bridgertons’, but I’m waiting for my mother to watch it at the same time. Meanwhile, I’m watching the first season of ‘Friends’ for the tenth time. I love it,” she resolves.

Program 59 in podcast format:


Davide Piano

An experienced journalist with an insatiable curiosity for global affairs on newshubpro

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