Sunday, January 16

Olympic Games: Nuria Diosdado, the swimmer who dreamed of space: “I always want more and that is why I have come far” | Olympic Games 2021


When she was a child, Nuria Diosdado (Guadalajara, 1990) dreamed of being an astronaut, but before reaching space she discovered artistic swimming, when she was barely five years old. At first, they told him that he would not get far and he was left out of the team of the sports club he was going to. A decade later, she was already a national team. At 20 he won six gold medals at the 2010 Pan American Games and emerged as one of the great promises of a sport practically unknown in Mexico. Just a few days after the competitions ended, he was stripped of all his doping medals. Two years later he competed in his first Olympic Games and in the following he climbed seven positions and made it to the finals, the best performance for his country since Sydney 2000. “I have had very difficult times, but pride has led me to where I am. “Says Diosdado,” I always want more and that is why I have come far. “

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A few days before entering the competition, his dreams are intact. “I definitely aspire to have the best performance of my life,” says the captain of the Mexican team in Tokyo 2020, who pauses in the final stretch of her preparation to speak in an interview about her successes and failures, laugh at the anti-sex beds from the Olympic village and reveal the secrets of the world that he discovered underwater as a high-performance athlete. This is an edited and condensed version of their responses.

Question. As a child you said you wanted to be an astronaut, is it a similar feeling when you are underwater?

Answer. I remember I used to say that I wanted to study the universe. I wanted to go to that place where you don’t know what there is. I think it can be compared to my life under water. It is very similar, due to the fact that it is your space, in which you can float and move 360 ​​degrees without any limitation, without walls, without a floor to stop you.

I like to do things my way. I don’t like being restricted. I don’t like being told “up to here.” And I am a dreamer. I like to see beyond, nothing has satisfied me, I always want more and that is why I have come far. The sensation that I have under the water is that silence, a strange silence, because it is not that there is no noise, it is that it is the noise of silence under the water. Love it. I really enjoy that part of me, in which I am two people: Nuria inside the water and outside.

P. How is such a degree of synchronization achieved in artistic swimming?

R. We have underwater speakers in which the music is heard exactly the same as outside. We don’t sing the music, we tell it. Since the routine is done, we agree on how we are going to count it and each choreographic movement has an assigned number. When we are already practicing, you have to learn the movements according to the rhythm of the count that you are keeping. That can only be achieved with hundreds of times of doing the routine, of marking and practicing it.

Under the water we do not speak, we do not touch. Suddenly, it doesn’t have to be verbal communication. With a single glance, in a millisecond, you understand what is happening. It can happen that in a competition you need your partner to move. The adrenaline sometimes makes you move with greater force and with which you feel a pat or a look, with that you have to understand what is happening. The communication that takes place there is very interesting because, indeed, we cannot speak, it is one of the rules. You have to know how to understand that language.

In video, the swimmer in an interview with EL PAíS.

P. How is the world of artistic swimming? Do beauty standards weigh a lot?

R. It is a very demanding sport, not only physically, we also have to think about everything. There are sports that are like this: gymnastics, ballet … They are sports in which it is not only enough that you train to be very good technically. The swimmers must have charisma and be a person who attracts attention, because in three minutes you have to capture the attention of the judges and the public.

I do not think it is a standard of beauty, they are standards that every sport has. I cannot pretend to be weightlifting, when perhaps neither my muscles nor my bones nor my physiognomy give me to practice that sport. Many times it is seen as a standard of beauty because we are very neat, very made up, we are normally slim, normally a physique is sought, but that is the case in all sports. They are the unwritten rules that every sport has. It is clear that everyone can practice the sport they want, but not everyone will go far, because of those qualities, not everyone can go.

P. What goes through the head of an athlete within hours of the start of the Olympic Games?

R. It is a lot of excitement and a bit of anxiety, especially in these Olympic Games that were postponed for a long period and at one point it seemed that they were not going to be done. You always want them to start. The closer they get, the more urgent it is for me to board the plane, to see the Olympic village. Tokyo tastes like success, glory, joy, happiness. It is not just if I come or not, or if I go for a medal. I never thought I’d make three Olympics. The first ones were a surprise, although I had worked hard for them. Now, after so many years of career, it is like success made flesh and blood for everything I have had to go through, all the years that I have given myself to my sport and complete this five-year Olympic cycle.

P. What do you think of these Olympic Games “in pandemic mode”?

R. They will be historical for the moment in which they are living. We have seen how the virus has evolved and how the world at some point stopped. Now you have to continue. I know they will be different: there will be no public, my family had to cancel their trips, the beds, the rooms, the food, everything that was normally lived in the Olympic village … All this is over. All this emotion will have to be concentrated on what we are going to experience. I think that among all the athletes there is going to be a greater sense of solidarity, of much more respect. Obviously, they are a competition, but they are going to live differently. I notice it from now on. Only a country like Japan can host an Olympic Games in the middle of a pandemic and with the restrictions that will be in place.

P. What did you think when you found out about the cardboard beds in the Olympic village?

R. It made me laugh a lot, although for Mexicans it is nothing new. At the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, all the furniture we had in the rooms was cardboard, although I’m not sure about the beds. I think that, beyond the anti-sex issue that Tokyo gives it, it could have been handled that it was recycling or another type of issue. I have been told that the beds are very comfortable and that the mattresses are perfect, that is more than enough.

P. Is it more difficult to compete without an audience?

R. I think that in the end, the public, in one way or another, can scare you. Seeing a crowded stage is imposing. On the one hand, I think we are all going to be able to handle our nerves better, although each athlete will have their own way of seeing it. The only thing I am looking for is to compete and the only thing that I could not allow myself is to be told “we have to remove the water from the pool.”

P. In Spain there has been a lot of talk about how swimmer Ona Carbonell has had to combine breastfeeding her child and the Olympic competition. How does elite sport collide with other aspects in the lives of athletes?

R. It shocks a lot. I have been an athlete for 25 years and 16 at this level, and the moment you decide to be a high performance athlete, your day to day revolves around your sport. I think that is the case all over the world, not just in Mexico. You mentioned the video that Ona Carbonell published about breastfeeding and I think we are living in a world in which more and more things have to be accepted. I had never heard of such a situation in other games. And now, in Tokyo 2020, it is being accepted that athletes can take their children with certain restrictions. That speaks of progress that is being made. There are people who will agree or not.

Personally, I believe that if I am an athlete, I am just an athlete. If there is something I admire about women who are now mothers and, above all about Ona – who is a great friend and we have grown up together – it is that she is a mother, is breastfeeding and is a great athlete, who has to worry not only about looking for a medal for Spain, but also about how you are going to take care of your child. I admire him. I don’t know if I could do it.

But I find it very interesting to see this evolution that society is experiencing, which although it does not please everyone, as Ona well emphasized in her message, I believe that at some point we will have the right conditions for all these situations that are occurring. and that many people did not see coming. Every time we have to be more receptive and it is an initiative that makes me have much more admiration for these athletes who have various roles. In my case, I am a student and I have had to divide myself for these Olympic Games, put everything aside and I believe that everything is life decisions, of how you want to lead your life and your sports career.

P. Does the student Nuria demand things from the athlete Nuria?

R. No. Thanks to the pandemic, for the first time in my life I was able to be a full-time student and I am already in the last quarter of my Master’s in Public Image. I was able to recognize myself for the first time as a student who gets 10s, who tries very hard, a little nerd. And that Nuria does not demand anything from the athlete Nuria. Suddenly as an athlete it is important to discover that you are good at other things, that you not only know how to do your sport, that when you retire you will be able to continue with a career. It gives me the assurance that when I take a sports retreat, I will be able to find this happiness. Without missing the athlete Nuria that I am now.

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