Just hours after winning his fifth medal at a Games, Saul Craviotto attends to ABC from the Villa, where he has to pack his suitcase like any mortal before heading to Spain. A very long vacation awaits him there, which he assures that he needs to free himself from the stress of these years. A complicated cycle that he is already leaving behind to think about Paris 2024, where he hopes to go to increase the metal account in his private account.
“Well, I slept well, but I had a hard time falling asleep.” I was until two or three in the morning talking with my family, with my wife and my parents, because during
the day had been difficult, and then it took me a while to sleep. It wasn’t until three in the morning that I got into bed, but I made him happy.
“What did your parents tell you?”
“Well, they were very proud of me.” They have had a very bad time, with many nerves, but they are happy. And that they would have been the same even if we would have been fourth or out of the final if they had seen me happy. Because if this Olympic cycle has served any purpose, it is to realize the things that are really important. They are the ones who are in good times and in bad times, but if we give them a medal, all the better.
“Where did you leave that money that has cost you so much today?”
“Well, I slept with her very close.” It was on the bedside table. From time to time I would pick it up, touch it … I can’t quite believe it. Not because I have more (I had four before Tokyo) do I stop appreciating what it means to have won it. And I know it will take several days for me to really give it the value it deserves. It always happens to me the same.
“How was the celebration?”
“Well, very restrained, which is what these times of pandemic allow.” Also, there were still teammates who needed to rest because they were competing today, and we couldn’t mess it up out of respect for them. So we went to dinner at the Japanese restaurant in the Villa and then we were in the room commenting a bit about what these days had been like.
“How do you have the phone?”
—Uffff (snorts). Imagine. I have many messages and it tastes terrible, because I would like to answer them all, but it is impossible. When I have a free time I will do it. It’s amazing. I read all of them, yes, and I appreciate all the love that comes to me there and also through social networks.
“Have you noticed that you receive more messages now than when you won the first one?”
—In Beijing it was all very different, because nobody knew me. Now everyone knows who I am, they put you in the medal pools, and it shows. But I have always felt a lot of affection in all the Olympic cycles and I have felt very protected.
—Anyone that has moved you and that you can tell us about?
—Well, the family groups are without a doubt the ones that excite me the most. Going there and seeing a lot of messages with videos and photos of how they have lived the test is something that touches my heart. They are the ones who are always there and see them cry and excited because it is something that fills me a lot.
– Does this medal know better for everything that has happened this Olympic cycle?
-Of course. It was something that he had saved for a long time and that he had already told Miguel (García, the coach). When his father died in the first wave of the pandemic, due to Covid-19, I told him that we were going to get this medal and that we were going to dedicate it to him. We were going to do something nice in Tokyo for his father and we were able to do it. Tears fell to him on Saturday and we did too. We have had a very bad time these years, with a pandemic in between and many more obstacles, and arriving here, standing up to the Germans and winning a silver is something that tastes like glory.
—They gave Miguel a hug that almost broke him in half …
-Ha ha ha. It is that sometimes we do not control the emotion. It was the least we could do for him. We have the best coach in the world, recognized by everyone, but he is also an exceptional person. He is like a brother to me, with whom I have lived many things from Beijing to here. We have always been close and I don’t remember an argument between us. Having traveled this path with a person like him next to you makes it even more beautiful.
“Cal said yesterday, on ABC, that there was no one better than you to match your medal record …
“Well, I really appreciate it and it’s an honor for me.” I always emphasize the same thing about David, that being a sports legend, he is much better as a person. For us it has been a benchmark, the one that took away our fear of winning. He is God in canoeing, and hearing him say that honors me very much.
—Cal did not stop there, saying that he was going to encourage him to continue to Paris so that he could get the sixth or seventh medal …
“Let’s see if I’m going to have to cheer him on, because whatever he gets, he takes another one.” If I wanted to, I think I could win another… (laughs). I appreciate it, because I have always felt a lot of support from him.
“Is it true that you are going to take a five-month vacation?” How hard is it to prepare for the Games?
—That’s what the body asks of me, but I know that when I get to Spain and I haven’t been on the canoe for a month, I’m going to climb the walls. In the end it is my passion and what I love, but I do need to rest body and mind. I have to free myself from the pressure of going to a national selection, competing or going to the Games to win a medal. I feel like canoeing for enjoyment. Charge the batteries and see if I have the strength to get to Paris. What he could not do is make it to October now and start training again. Impossible.
“Do you know where you’re going to recharge those batteries?”
—Well, yes, this year, national tourism, which is what we have to do. We will go to Lanzarote first and then I think to Mallorca. Family vacations, to spend time with the girls, which is what I really want. Although first I will be at home for a few days, in Asturias, recovering from this wear and tear.
—How have you seen the Spanish performance in Tokyo?
-The balance is very positive. We have obtained 17 medals, but there have also been many fourth places, diplomas … I know that people only value those who get on the podium, but those of us who are athletes know how difficult it is to achieve a medal and I think that the fan should also value which means staying close to that or reaching a final. As a standard bearer and teammates, I am very proud of everyone and I would tell those who finished fourth to take advantage of that to prepare with more enthusiasm for the next appointment, which is also just around the corner. The example of Teresa Portela is the one that they must follow, who has never lowered her arms until she has reached the podium in her sixth Olympic Games.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism