News : “As El Cholo Simeone says, the effort is not negotiable”
He is afraid of 2021. Or rather, he worries about a year in which Raúl Chapado, the president of the RFEA, would go with people like Fernando Carro to the end of the world: “Fernando is easier to kill than to win”.
I didn’t tell him, but when I wrote to him for the interview, he answered yes the next day at 5.47 in the morning. The time caught my attention. Journalism is there to tell those things. Raúl Chapado is today a 50-year-old man who, at 16, participated in his first competition without training. Then he prospered and got rid of a prejudice when he discovered that perfection does not exist. Today, he has been in command of the Spanish Athletics Federation for almost 4 years. I don’t know if he will be a good boss or if he can be a better one. But this conversation may be an opportunity to look to see, to get closer to him. A man who is increasingly measured in social networks where he only writes about athletics. Show a very prudent profile and the word favorite will never come out of your mouth. Moreover, he tries to convince his people that this word can and should be dispensed with in the Federation. It is Raúl Chapado, the president who every day remembers that old phrase of Simeone. “As El Cholo says, the effort is not negotiable.” And then he uses Carro as an example. “Fernando is easier to kill than to win.”
How has COVID affected you?
In the soul. It has affected my soul. I’ve been screwed. I still am when I think about it. We have left 20 or 25 people from athletics that we have not even been able to say goodbye to. There are still clubs that call me that cannot get going and that affects.
But everything is overcome.
Well, it was so hard at first…. I felt that I had inherited a house, that I had made a huge reform and that, suddenly, an earthquake had passed overhead …
Like in the movie ‘The impossible’.
He couldn’t even enter the office.
but that was not the problem. We come from the track. What’s more, I started in Ávila where there wasn’t even an athletics track and we trained in a park thanks to Santiago Moreno and all that forced our character. He showed us that, with little means, you can go far as Mariano García now shows every time he runs.
Without me telling him anything, he has just personalized an athlete, to give him an example.
Rather, I have referred to his training conditions on a triangular dirt terrain in his town and yet… look where he goes. It was what he was trying to say.
And why don’t you, as president of the Federation, tell him to come to Madrid?
I can’t tell you. Everyone has the right to choose their environment as Fermín Cacho did, as Abel Antón did and as so many athletes have done. Before that we cannot say anything. We should not. But it is important for athletes to know that they have other possibilities and that using them is up to them.
And does it not bother you that there are athletes who train in the villages, away from the CARs, and achieve better results?
I would ask a reflection: is a 400-meter running track necessary in all places, in all towns? Can’t you make smaller facilities that are more economically viable?
But you have not answered the question.
No, it doesn’t bother me, because I know what reality is. I know you can’t go against it. But I insist that the important thing is for athletes to know that we are here, that our facilities are here that could offer them the possibility of progress. But from there I insist: each one has to be the one to decide.
How many professional coaches are missing in Spain?
I don’t know, but the first thing to ask yourself is this question: what is a professional coach?
And what is?
Is a coach who trains three or four hours in the afternoons a professional? From there I can tell you that the Federation has a list of 100 collaborators throughout Spain and that, yes, of course we would like to have more, but we cannot. We cannot forget that this is an amateur sport and that this is like when you set up a restaurant. If not enough people come in, they will give you what they will give you, no more.
I don’t know why but I was thinking of José Luis Mareca.
Mareca in a special case that, in addition, has had a personal detail that puts him in a superior state as a person. But if we talk about him, if we personalize him, it is clear that he is a man who has bet above all on his vocation and that this has made him happy and has made many people happy.
That matters too.
I always say that any coach, regardless of the resources they perceive, if they perceive them, generates something more important than money, which is the possibility that their athletes fulfill their dreams.
I am used to hearing athletes say that they do not earn enough.
And they are right, but they cannot be subsidized to all and there is a question that is the one that dictates sentence in a market economy like ours: what do you generate? How much do you generate?
I, for example, do not know about journalism.
And you are one of those who insists and insists …
But it is difficult.
Everything is very difficult and I don’t even want to think about what 2021 is going to be. It worries me a lot, a lot. But I admit that from the Federation we have to give the maximum training opportunities. From there, the athlete who achieves the best results or the coach, who is better trained or who has that concern, it is true that he should charge more.
Why are you talking about training coaches and not intuition? Is intuition no longer enough?
It will always be key. It is like the cook. That will always make a difference. But we have discovered that technology avoids mistakes and, what is more, technology has shown us that the chronological development of age has nothing to do with the biological one. Therefore, you have to train, training never ends.
There we agree.
You cannot go against reality. Before we saw the Tour de France and we saw the director with a earpiece and now in that same car that the director is in, there are five screens because a cyclist on a Tour generates four million data. But another thing is that the creative part of the coach will always be important and of course it will have value: that mental, motivating part.
In this era of technology, would Mariano Haro have dropped from 27’00 ”to 10,000?
I don’t know because I am not an expert in substance. But Mariano Haro would have been great at any time. Talent adapts to everything.
For me, Spanish athletics lacks a great banner.
Doesn’t Orlando Ortega look like it?
I could not tell.
Nobody expects to see Orlando beyond third place. How many athletes are like this in the world? But this is very difficult: we compete against 214 countries among which poor countries are higher in the medal table because as children nobody has to teach them to run. It is not like playing soccer.
We will always have Fernando Carro.
Its brands are of the highest quality and it is true that it has that ability to reach the public that will never forget it. Perhaps because Fernando is easier to kill than to win. People give more value to what they are, since they are the way they are, than to what they earn as happened in cycling, for example, with Chaba Jiménez. Which Vuelta Grande did you win? But he left everyone out.
Which medal would you be most excited about?
Anyone. Any realistic goal that can be met, be it a finalist position, whatever it may be, makes me the same illusion because I know that everything goes through a lot of work and it bothers me that when those results are not given the athlete is criticized, such as, for example, it happened with the marchers at the Doha World Cup.
The marchers are unknown to the general public.
I do not know. This depends. I would also tell you that not all first division footballers are known. That is why I insist that it is very relative. I remember when Keylor Navas was at Madrid and he won the same things as Sergio Ramos and yet he did not attract the public so much. Did that mean it was less important? Well I do not know.
It would be worth it for me in the next Olympics if Bruno Hortelano was a finalist.
I had that feeling when I saw him enter the Berlin European Championship first on the last straight of the 4 × 400… The satisfaction was immense. Life had given him a second chance and he deserved it so much. You deserve it. But I also think that athletics owes Husillos one because it was not losing a medal in Birmingham but what happened: I saw him and I saw his family… I didn’t even want to think about it.
It is better to forget.
But it’s difficult.
It’s also hard for athletics to give you a next chance.
I know, I know. Look at the case of Natalia Rodríguez at the 2009 World Cup in Berlin. I always remember it because I was there and I saw her pass me by at the time and I didn’t even want to think about the night I was waiting for her. But it is that athletics is like this: athletics is not like putting savings in the bank. It will always be a risky investment.
And then you say to the athlete ‘you take a chance’?
I don’t tell them anything, because there is already a technical team for that.
But you are the president of the Federation.
I have been an athlete and I know what happens. I know when the athlete goes to bed and an endless night awaits him in which he cannot sleep. I know that in the end, athletes can be the worst off. At best, the only thing I can say out loud is to remember what Cholo Simeone always says: effort is not negotiated.
It was always like this.
Yes, of course, but now we have a very brave generation with a cheek that I think we did not have in my time. In fact, there are five or six athletes now that we all agree. We love their cheekiness.
Were you cheeky?
I made the decision to risk. I think it was clear to me how it happened to me at the Sydney Games where I made three voids. But with the margin that I had, which was very narrow with the knee, I ended up satisfied because I made the decision to risk. And risk. I was not worth going to do 16.60. I had already stayed at the gates in a World Cup where I had been 13. I did not want it to happen to me again. That’s why I convinced myself that I had to take risks and I didn’t hesitate. And it didn’t come out, okay, but what was I going to blame myself for?