Saturday, October 16

Ray Zapata, silver on the ground in the footsteps of his discoverer Deferr

  • The Hispanic-Dominican gets the same note as the Israeli champion but is second by a tenth of difficulty

  • He achieves the same metal and in the same device as ‘Gervi’ 13 years ago in Beijing

Nobody knows what life would be like Ray Zapata Y Gervasio Deferr he would not have noticed him. The triple Olympic medalist saw in a Spanish championship that Dominican who had come to Spain at the age of nine and whom, at 17, many considered was already too old for gymnastics. Ray was injured but ‘Gervi’ was stunned by his power, thinking that not even he reached that high, without understanding how no one was betting on that late talent. He took him out of Lanzarote, where he was doing festivals on the beach, and took him to the CAR of Sant Cugat. Eleven years later Ray has hung his silver on the ground, the same as his discoverer in Beijing did 13 years ago. The Hispanic-Dominican has obtained the same note as the Israeli champion Artem Dolgopyat, but has been second by a tenth of difficulty.

Ray acknowledged that he had gone to Rio scared, but that he was going to Tokyo for everything. At the age of 28 and four, after breaking his Achilles tendon, he faced his second Games convinced that his time had come. He reached the final with the fourth best mark and with the Zapata 2 in his backpack. In February he had surgery on his left ankle and since then he has been practicing a new movement, an evolution of the ‘Zapata’. If the first version was a forward double somersault with a twist and a half longitudinal, with the body shrunk, in evolution the difficulty has increased when doing it with the body extended. The debut was a month ago at the Doha World Cup, where it earned him silver.

The strategy

The question was whether to risk in the final with the 2.0 or be conservative with the 1.0. Russian Nikita Nagornyy He has opened fire by risking with a triple top hat, he has failed and has left him out of his podium options. Ray has come out the next with the single Zapata, the conservative bet that he has nailed like all the series except one. After doing it, he has shown the bib with the name of Olympia, who was born in May and who came to the world with a medal under his arm.

It remained to be seen what the other rivals were doing, crossing their fingers that they would make mistakes. The other big favorite, the Israeli Dolgopyat, has started with a Zapata that has not nailed, just as he has had imbalances in the next two diagonals. He has traced Ray’s note, 14,933, but has placed first as it is an exercise with a tenth more difficulty. Zapata, despite the fact that he already saw the podium very close, could not hide his disappointment and his tears. Even in that he traced the feelings of Deferr in Beijing, who felt that the judges had taken the gold from him to give it to the host Zou KaI.

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The tears of rage were transformed into tears of emotion when he got on the podium to hang himself, by the covid protocols, the silver. The same tears shed by his wife, Susana, who had hidden Olympia’s bib in her suitcase and which Ray discovered while unpacking in Tokyo. A metal that will be tattooed next to the bronze of the 2015 World Cup that looks on the chest next to a tiger. The great asset of Spanish gymnastics has thus added its name to those of Deferr (gold in jumping in Sydney and Athens and silver in Beijing) and Patricia moreno (bronze on the ground in Athens-2004).

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