The end point of Gerardo Cebrián
Without even imagining it, he was able to live his last broadcast of athletics this winter in the Spanish indoor track championship in Orense. He, who dreamed of saying goodbye at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. "It is true that sometimes I look like a wise man," he admits today.
He has overcome the coronavirus Gerardo Cebrián (1955) who always loves to talk about his permanent commitment to athletics. Today we are not just going to try. We will also try to organize the past, the present and perhaps the future. It is a trip that covers from 1982 to November 11 of this year when he retires completely. In the background is a very long biography in which athletics made him cry, scream and even be silent. Gerardo Cebrián does not leave anyone indifferent. Accept that with that tone it can even go wrong, because it gives the impression of knowing everything and nobody knows everything. But there is no better time than the finals to reconsider, to listen or to return to the old Vallehermoso stadium where everything started. Today is the day. Today, Cebrián assumes that there will be no more athletic broadcasts for him on public television. Who was going to tell him that the February Spanish championship in Orense could be the last for him, who dreamed of saying goodbye to us at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But that's the way life never lets us dominate everything. The COVID-19 crisis has made for us decisions that we would have liked to have made. "Hopefully we'll get out of this soon," he says.
Question. You seem to think you know everything.
Answer. I've been in athletics for a while. In November I will be 65 years old. In 1981 I started as press officer in the Federation and since 1982 I have been present in all the championships in Spain.
There is nothing more to say then.
I don't know, but maybe the past refreshes my mind. Having lived through so many experiences, there are few things that can surprise me. Maybe because of what I just told you. I have lived so long, so many years have been devoted to athletics in body and soul ...
Does knowing so much cause me to fall ill?
It's possible. Maybe the tone. Perhaps it is true that I seem wise and I understand that people say of me, 'this guy who thinks he knows everything' or who disagrees with my comments. But it is that I need to comment on everything. Maybe because that is my commitment to the people who listen to me and I can tell you that I receive direct messages on Twitter or WhatsApp from people who get my number in which they say 'thank you, Gerardo'.
No one insults you?
Yeah right. But automatically I block those. What's more, I could tell you that I have a collection of 50 or 60 Twitter profiles that I have blocked. Sometimes, I review and unlock them because of the bad times I forget right away. And sometimes I'm wrong, because they insult me again and I have no choice but to block them again.
You look like one of those you don't forget.
I have an impressive memory, almost telegraphic, I would say. But what matters is not important I forget immediately. Now, what is important ..., that is another story. That I never forgot.
Is athletics that important?
If for me if. It's my life. I have given everything for athletics since I started working in the Federation in the afternoons, when I replaced Mauricio Blanco and went from five to ten at night, I remember that I combined it with my work and, since then, it has been so many years , many years.
What did you do?
I was a surveyor. I worked at the Cadastral Geographical Institute and before that I did it at a construction company. Even, at 15 or 16 years old, he was already working as buttons in the architects office of José María Pérez González, the great Peridis. But I also liked athletics. He was a delegate of the Kangaroo club and one day Odriozola, who was on the Board of Directors in the Federation, proposed to me to work for them and then he said to me, "We want you to be the press officer."
And what did you answer?
Look at you, I am not a journalist.
But the temptation was stronger.
Odriozola told me, "It doesn't matter, you transmit what we want" ...
At 26 years old, were you like now?
No man. I knew less, but I had an advantage: I loved athletics. I devoured ‘Spanish Athletics’, the me Brand ’soaked me…, because I had always lived in Reina Victoria, next to the Vallehermoso stadium, and that marked me. Every day I saw people train and that stuck with me. I remember that I was already in the stands at the Ibero-American Games in the early sixties. My father took me and I had a good time and I started training with the Kangaroo Club, where Luis Miguel Landa took me. But, as it was very bad, I immediately opted for managerial activities.
Then you are a professor of athletics.
No, because I don't master the training systems, I would have to master them.
Did athletics never disappoint you?
Sure. There was a very difficult time. I only know what I suffered with Operation Port because then there were people, who for me were like my idols, who totally disappointed me ...
And, if you had such a bad time, why didn't you leave?
No man. In the end, athletics is above that. It would not have been fair to leave, among other things, because I have always thought that those who cheated on me were the exception, that most athletes are honest and that I have no right to doubt them.
The reality is, I wasn't going to ask him a question about doping.
But it cannot be forgotten. It's part of our history. Those who fell were great names, Marta, Penti, Paquillo ... They were people who had given us immense pleasure. I even think that I was a personal friend of one of them and that, suddenly, what happened happened ... It was a monumental displeasure.
Did any of them call you for help?
No, no, not at all. What's more, I have had a rifirafe with one or the other. But, for example, with Marta Domínguez if I coincided a year when I was on vacation in Santander, I with my family and she with hers, and one day we coincided. I was not going to go to her, but she was the one who did it and said to me quieres do you want to meet my son? ’And I went and introduced me to the boy and, in general, it was a very respectful meeting on both sides.
It was not the time to ask her: 'Why, Marta, why?'
No, it wasn't, of course not. It would have been a very unpleasant question and at that time it was not relevant. But if I tell you the truth, I have never been tempted to ask anyone why, perhaps because the disappointment was such that it is better to leave it at that.
Were they the biggest disappointments of your life?
Yes I think so. My life has always been calm, like that of any citizen. Perhaps due to professional deformation, beyond the death of a loved one, I do not remember anything so painful. On a personal level, at all levels, it was brutal. They were people that I adored. The disgust was enormous. Especially for the year they did this sport.
Have you never hurt athletics?
Surely yes. Surely I have given some wrong opinion. Then you think again and you ask yourself, 'Why did you do that?' But, in the end, you never rectify. Why? Keep in mind that it was 35 years, from 1982 to 2017 in the same position and now that everything is gone ... I realize everything. I wanted to have retired in the Tokyo Olympics, but it seems to me that my last broadcast was in the Spanish Indoor Track Championship in Ourense and that my final point was with the 17.18 meters of Pablo Torrijos in the triple jump. I have to thank him. It seems to me that I will always have to remember it. I have a feeling it was the end point.
And now nostalgia stomps?
Now that my full retirement looms in November, maybe yes. But I'm not afraid either, because I already have a great project. I want to write the last 40 years of Spanish athletics from within, from the Olympics in Moscow 80 to those in Tokyo. It will take time because since March 1, 1982, when I started working at the RFEA, I have an agenda in which I pointed out the highlights of each day, which afterwards I went to the computer and there I have everything waiting….
It will be his last great service to athletics.
First, I would have to find an editorial. Then say that I am not going to do anything else and I have not said it.
Is Twitter, today, your job?
Twitter is my hobby. It makes me feel alive, possibly younger. At his side, I am happy. It is not a job but I love it and I cannot hide it. Perhaps because it is my way of broadcasting athletics every day or of not separating from athletics for a single day: I don't want to, I can't.
When a broadcast was over it seemed like the end of summer to you.
I felt that way, it's true. Maybe because I love this so much, I like this so much ... I just repeat it, but it is so. Look, I remember the first time I cried like a fool in Budapest in 85 when Spain rose to the first division in a European Cup. Suddenly, I started crying there by myself, but it was so exciting for me and there were so few of us Spaniards who were there, if I remember correctly, José Ángel de la Casa, Pedro Molero, Gregorio Parra, Pedro Gabilondo ...
It's also nice to cry.
It is difficult for a tear to escape, but there have been moments, it left moments in my life due to athletics ... I still remember the triplet of the Helsinki European marathon when I saw the three of them enter the stands: I had been following the marathon running from one side to the other and when they had 15 kilometers left I was three or four from the stadium and I ran to the stands and there I saw what I saw and I can't even explain the happiness with which I went down to the mixed zone.
That is also athletics.
But I could also tell you about the Stockholm Indoor European Championship when Roberto Parra won the 800, Mateo Cañellas the 1,500 and Anacleto the 3,000. Or the triplet of Birmingham in 2007 in the 1,500 or the gold of Carlota Castrejana or Yago, always Yago, the eternal memory of the 99 World Cup indoor track….
Yago Lamela: 8.56. He recently returned it to us Robin Robinson Report ’
That awful. The thought of Yago ... He was not a joy but he was a unique guy and he made us live ... I have never seen a contest of more exciting length than his with Pedroso at the Maebasi World Cup. I still tell Pedroso when I see him in Guadalajara and he says to me: "You are right, Gerardo." But, you know, if it hadn't been for the play-off Yago wouldn't have gone to that World Cup because he didn't have the minimum. I remember when the IAAF press officer confirmed that they were targeting her, I said to her, 'Yago will be a medalist,' and I was not mistaken.
Did Odriozola leave you without margin to be president of the Federation?
No Please. Never. He would have told himself. My relationship with Odriozola was not one of employee but of friendship. We had both run for the Kangaroo. We had trained at the Casa de Campo, the Ciudad Universitaria, the Dehesa de la Villa ... If I had to tell him something, he would enter his office without problem. My relationship with him was not one of submission. I never kept silent about what I felt.
Then you will not be running for the RFEA this year.
What is he saying? No, no, please. But I tell you more with the one who is falling and seeing what Raúl Chapado has done in these four years, who will dare? With Chapado, Spanish athletics has entered the 21st century. Chapado has turned the sock around and those who read to me will say, 'what a ball this guy is!', But they forget that I no longer need to hit anyone, I am partially retired and in November, when I turned 65 I retired definitely ... But I always said things as I feel them.
Who knows more about athletics Joaquin Carmona @ jokin4318 or you?
I would like to know who Joaquin Carmona is ...
I once read that it could be Odriozola.
It is true that Odriozola knows about athletics what you ask him. And González Amo also. Those yes are professors of athletics. But it is neither of the two nor anyone super-known, I assure you. From there, I have some suspicion about who Jokin Carmona may be ... But, above all, for me, as I see that for you too, it is an enigma because if it is not Ángel Cruz, if it is not Pedro Gabilondo, yes It is not Óscar Fernández, if it is not Loles Vives, if it is not Martí Perarnau… who do I know who knows so much about athletics?
In the next one he will reveal it, Gerardo.
In the next I hope that all this situation happens soon because we live one ... Today I was walking down the Calle Mayor de Guadalajara, which is one of the main arteries of the city, and I could not believe what I was seeing ...., except for all the pharmacies closed shops, and that hurts a lot because you ask yourself, what can these people live on?