Thursday, September 23

Maialen Chourraut takes a historic bath in Tokyo


  • The Gipuzkoan paddler scores her third medal at the Games, the third Spanish metal in Japan.

  • She trains in Pau, advised by her husband Xabi Etxaniz, and has already achieved gold in Rio 2016 and bronze in London 2012.

Pau is a beautiful city that shows all the splendor of Aquitaine in France, hot in summer and cold in winter, but which has become something like a door of salvation, as when it is trapped between the white waters, to Maialen Chourraut, the Gipuzkoan paddler who never fails, the one who finds herself at the Games, and the one who took a historic bath in the Tokyo channel this Tuesday to achieve something so difficult and with so much effort, such as a third medal Olympic in her track record, a silver to add to the gold achieved in Rio 2016 and the bronze in London 2012, when she believed she could aspire to a better metal.

Two hours from Donosti by car is the city of Pau, where there is a channel to practice slalom, a term that specialists like more than whitewater canoeing. Because until then Maialen had to live in La Seu d’Urgell, the only Spanish setting for slalom, and that forced him to be away from his family, a Basque family of French descent and always very inclined to sports since his cousin Íñigo Chaurreau, who always wrote the last name differently.

And it was in Pau that the Tokyo silver medal began to be forged, the third for the Spanish delegation after Adriana Cerezo’s silver in taekwondo and David Valero’s bronze in mountain biking. Always trained by her husband, Xabier Etxaniz, who debuted as an Olympian in Barcelona 92 ​​when the specialty was included in the Games program, and then repeated in Atlanta 92.

It was a relief to her that the French stationed a canal near her home; Maialen, who had grown up next to La Concha beach and who from a very young age joined the Club Atlético San Sebastián, made her first international trip in 2000 to attend the Junior World Cup in Bratislava. Since then, until now, at 38 years old, she has never stopped competing, except when injuries have plagued her or for the minimum period that it took in 2013 when she gave birth to her daughter Anne, who accompanied her in Rio and the who has stayed in the Basque Country because of the restrictions caused by the covid. He dedicated the medal to the girl: “Wow, Anne, and all the friends, the whole family that is with her, supporting her too, because it is hard to be so many kilometers away.”

And it is that two months after the cesarean section Maialen was already training as she had done up to two days before delivery to make it clear that sport and motherhood were not two incompatible terms.

European champion in 2015, with two other continental silvers and two other silver in the specialty World Cups, one of them achieved in La Seu d’Urgell in 2009, her main sporting glory came in Rio when she was proclaimed Olympic champion.

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And, little by little, with the injuries, with the trips to Pau, he began to prepare for Tokyo. He entered the final, which was the first objective, knowing that the medals were difficult. She was the fourth to start and after a fantastic, fast descent without penalties, she already placed herself with the best time she kept until the German Ricarda Funk, one of the great favorites, appeared on the scene, who snatched the gold from her. The bronze went to the Australian Jessica Fox.

“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it,” Chourreaut repeated in Japan, after getting off the podium, “I have suffered a lot these years, but it is a goal accomplished and more than accomplished.” And practically already a legend in the Spanish Olympic sport.


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