The European champion who became independent at age 15: "I had to buy and wash my clothes"
His story is an example for teenagers. Today, at 23 years old, she is European champion of 20 km march. An example of an athlete who leaves everything on the road and who in real life loves her parents. "I remember with five years that my mother said to me," from here one does not leave one of house if the bed is not made "
Is called María Pérez. She is 23 years old, she is European champion of 20 km march and she speaks well, frankly well. To sit down and listen to it is a distinction that comes from the woman who is currently studying in the Magisterium or from the girl who became independent from home at 15 years of age. He went to live in a shared apartment, where he discovered the road. I had to wash my clothes, make my food and buy cheap at the supermarket. Daughter of a worker and a woman, who worked in a butcher shop, Maria is, above all, a virtue that learned that her main victory will be her way of being. Today he leaves everything on the road and tomorrow he will tell the children in the classrooms. It will also count days like today, in which Raúl Chapado, the president of the Federation, he defined it as "a legend" because he saw it suffer as it is not written in the Lithuanian European Cup: take medicines in the provisioning, reach the goal as only the heroes arrive. "I left everything there," she recalls today, still on the road to recovery.
Question. It was a shame, María.
Answer. No, it happened and no. It was not a pity. In the end, everything is learned. Not every day before a competition you have to take an Ibuprofen because you get up with a fever, because your stomach hurts or because you are not well. But, in the end, you learn that hard times come out. It helps me to remember that we are not machines, that problems exist. You do not think that they will happen to you, but ...
Q. So are you interested in the problems?
R. I do not know, but what I'm trying to say is that a stomach problem does not ask permission, a lowering of defenses does not warn you ..., because that is not programmed anywhere ..., but we move to limits, is so thin, it tunes to such an extent that no matter how much you take care of yourself You can prevent a virus from coming tomorrow, as it has happened to me and it is not easy to recover ... But it was what I said before. In the end, everything is learned, and that does interest me: learning.
P. It hardens us to learn.
R. I think so. I grew up that way. I am faithful to what I lived at home. My father was a laborer and my mother worked in a butcher shop and when I was eleven years old I was already alone at home, I heated the food or I made the sandwich to my brother ..., of those things that are done in the villages ...
Q. Do the people make a different one?
R. It does not have to In the city it can also happen to you. But, above all, it depends on the way your parents educate you. I remember with five years that my mother told me, "no one comes from here if you do not make a bed", and I have never conceived that anyone make my bed ... and, of course, I guess those things mark you and that you can not give them up because, in addition, they convince you: you say 'I am like that', but it is because you like to be like that.
P. Well, that's the important thing.
R. Look, at 15 years old I left home, to live in Guadix and my parents did not tell me 'no' because they knew what I wanted. But at that age I saw myself alone in a shared apartment where bad moments were happening and I was alone. But you had to get used to it. You had to get used to that, to wash your clothes, to put the dryer, to go to the supermarket to do the shopping and even to look at the prices because you had the right money. I only had what my parents gave me and at that time, in the midst of a crisis, my father was unemployed because the construction was so low ...
Q. Was it like you were also unemployed when you were 15 years old?
R. It helped me understand that I could not ask my parents what they did not have.
Q. Does the money spare you today?
R. No, I do not have much left over. But it is true that time has left me room to save, and if my parents ask me for help I can give it to them. I can leave them money and give back what they have done for me, because, besides, I see it as a duty, what less can I do for them. My father now works in the fields and my mother has health problems ... But, as I always say, they have me and as far as I can I will always help.
P. How big this.
R. My way of being is a product of how I was raised and not educated badly. I think my family could not do better. It does not matter that we had the right to live because sometimes that is positive. For example, it allowed me to spend a lot of time with my grandmother and learn to cook by her side, because I never went to a daycare center; go to a public school and know the virtues of the public, I do not know, are many things.
Q. Are you still studying?
R. Yes, I am studying Children's Teaching in the UCAM. Some day I will be older, and that day I want to transmit to the children the values that I am learning from sports, to show them that everything can be done in the race and be happy. I have learned that it is easier to explain things to children by setting the example of sport: I am a test myself. Sport has strengthened my values. It has made me very happy.
Q. Does a defeat also make you happy?
R. No, not a defeat. Not that. But if I feel that I have competed well, even if the result is not good, then I am happy, because, for me, having a bad day does not mean surrendering. Maybe it would be the easiest. Then, you can always explain that we all have a bad day. But if I give up then I would not be happy. It would not be fair with everything my family has done for me.
Q. It opens our eyes to you.
R. I'm just explaining my way of being. In my house sometimes there could be no gifts, but there was never a lack of affection or a look that would make your life happy. As a child I learned that love is better than gifts. We went to eat as a family and had a wonderful time: I discovered that you do not have to have everything and that it may be better not to have it.
Q. However, we live in an increasingly materialistic world.
R. You'll see. But the fact of having more money does not mean you live better. Sometimes, I put myself in the shoes of footballers, who somehow have to live in a bubble. The same society forces them to do so. Then I ask myself: 'Maria, would you be able to live in a bubble?' I do not know how to answer yes.
Q. Do you consider yourself an example?
R. No, no, not at all. I have my examples, but that does not mean that I am an example. But another is to fight for me and for the people who are watching me, because there are people who are excited watching me fight, and that gives me strength. It reminds me that tomorrow people will not love you because they are European champions, but because of your way of being. That's why I take care of things so much: it's impossible for me to retire in a race, even though sometimes it's the easiest way ... There may be a child who is watching me and thinking: 'if she retires, I'll retire too'.
Q. The thing is to fight.
R. If for me if.
Q. You work in solitude. How is loneliness?
R. It's what I've always done. I like your company, I like silence and I do not like noise. Moreover, I think that the media noise would prevent me from training 24 hours a day. Sometimes, it bothers me that only when I get a good result do journalists remember me. But then I remember that my father, who does an equal or harder job in the field, never remember. Therefore, it is not fair that I complain. I am not going to do it.
Q. I prefer to talk to people who do not complain about what they have.
R. I'm happy. Others have less than me. I like my way of life, I like where I live and I care to take the time, because when you leave, when you're three or four months away from home, you come back and realize that time flies by. The children have grown up, the older people get a little older ... and then you think how fortunate I am to have health. Without going any further, my mother was recently operated on thyroid, has a problem in the hips and ...
P. Time does not stop before anyone.
R. Maybe that's why I like competition so much. I would spend my whole life competing. I can not imagine life without that pressure, without that seriousness that competition gives you. Maybe because then comes back the fifteen-year-old girl I carry inside: the one who got used to living with what I had, which is just what happens to me in competition. You can not waste anything, not a force or a look, nothing, because competition is like life. Tomorrow you may need it.