"When I was 20 months old I was in a coma for three days"
Question. I did not know, I did not know it.
Answer. I do not remember that, but I do remember when I was 11 years old: the day I was discharged definitively, because it was not easy to believe in that day, in the aftermath that I could have. However, today if it were not for the scar on my head ... There is nothing left but the memory of that day, at 11 years old. What's more, it still excites me.
Q. What did you learn from that?
A. I have bad days, like everyone else. But overall it made me optimistic. Even too optimistic I would say. And then it was the rest of life: having learned that the head is more important than the conditions, having discovered that I have a head for business ... That's why I know that now something very hard awaits us when the COVID crisis passes- 19, but I always prefer to give more options to optimism.
P. However, on Twitter you have taught pessimism in this crisis.
A. I am not the one to give lessons to anyone.
P. You gave the impression that you were all black: the journalist Ángel Cruz almost got mad at you for that reason.
A. I am realistic, that is true. And if the political management of this whole crisis has seemed disastrous to me, I say so. But in exchange I can tell you that I have a WhatsApp group with my athletes who, if nothing happens, should go to Tokyo and I have already proposed the option of competing in late August or, at most, in September. In fact, I work with that idea because the athlete needs close motivation and who says that some of this year some still cannot get their best mark?
Q. Will you return to five-star hotels?
A. It will take more or less, but yes, for sure. Difficulties teach me that we can sell our product even better. If we have all spent 4 or 5 hours watching a Nadal game, why don't we spend that time watching athletics? But we must sell it better and I have the impression that we can still do it.
Q. Have you known how to sell athletics?
A. We have all had failures, I was the first. But since 2005, since I started walking, I have never stopped trying. I have brought 224 athletes from 33 different countries and in this time I have never lost humility among other things because I know what it is to be humble. I was a mediocre athlete. Now I am only a man who looks for the resources that athletes need and who knows that sometimes it can be difficult, very difficult as the 2008 crisis showed me.
Q. Do you spend your life asking for money?
A. I don't think that is the definition of my work. But it is true that this has changed. Before you got them to give you money and saying 'thank you' was enough. But now you have to show the sponsor that this money is well invested. I have athletes who do, but I also have others who do not generate as much and you have to work hard on it.
Q. And how does it work?
R. The image is worked, the athlete's communication, above all. Without going any further, the fact that an athlete creates content on social networks. That today is very important because it will generate resources, which is what the sponsor is looking for.
Q. So an athlete changes price based on the number of followers he has?
A. Yes before, but not now, either, because it has been shown that what matters is not the number of followers, but that those followers are valid. There are people who have bought followers and that is not the way, that is only a number.
Q. Have you bought followers?
A. No, that would be like doping, winning something that you do not deserve or that you have not earned for yourself. I do not want that. So I have never encouraged anyone to do it because in the end everything comes out. Profiles have been found that have a large following, yet their posts have few 'likes'. You automatically realize that something is wrong there and that is not the way.
Q. No names can be given.
A. No, of course.
P. What life this.
A. Today, everything is measured to the millimeter. Until not so long ago, it was true that this was not the case. They did not ask you for justification at all and somehow that caused a majority of us to live beyond our means, including athletes. But that is no longer today: it can no longer be.
Q. We live in such a media world.
A. But it is in the world that you have to learn to live. I'm making it clear to you. Before you presented the resume of an athlete and that was enough. However, now that is almost the least of it. Now, in addition to the sports business card, you must present an image, show that this athlete knows how to sell your product.
P. Then they can force you almost everything by image: to cut your hair or shave your head.
R. At those levels I have not reached yet. But it is true that the image is worked a lot. When I started in golf I will always remember what we used to say to golfers: you cannot go to play badly dressed because you are in danger of the brands moving away from you. If you do something the sponsor doesn't like ... It's a danger. Get away from danger. But if, on the contrary, your image sells, even if your results are not the best ... In that sense we all remember the case of Anna Kournikova in tennis. Without winning big things, it generated big advertising contracts.
P. Athletics is not so media either.
R. I would say that there are few athletes as mediatic as Bruno Hortelano.
Q. It takes a long time without winning anything.
R. However, in this quarantine Bruno has been continuously present in the media, which shows that they are not just selling the results. Also the values transmitted by athletes and in that sense Bruno is a sportsman who speaks perfect English and has suffered mishaps with which society feels very identified.
Q. So with Bruno Hortelano you have done a great business.
A. No, I still have to do it.
Q. What is the value of an interview with Bruno Hortelano today?
A. One of the last ones they have done has been for a publication of the International Olympic Committee and it has been translated into seven languages. What's more, given the demand it has had, they took it out on all platforms, which gives an idea of what Bruno Hortelano means. In fact, its main international sponsor is an American multinational.
Q. Did the accident reinforce Hortelano's value?
R. In the end, everything contributes in life. Even the most negative and it is true that, after the accident, we signed superior agreements but it is also true that we lost others. But above all the important thing is to show that there is a way out of an accident, that fear can be overcome. Look, what I have told you happened to me at 20 months. I was in a coma for three days due to a traffic accident. And if you are able to get out of that, what are you not going to be capable of?
Q. Perhaps that is why you are so good at your job.
A. I am not who. I do everything with my heart. I am excited by what I do. I always say that I am living a dream, because I come from the most hidden places, from an island that does not even reach ten thousand inhabitants, the island of El Hierro, where there are no hospitals or golf courses. And yet here I am, and nobody has given me anything except the education my parents gave me.
Q. Do you dream of earning more and more money?
A. I admit that money is important. I have a mortgage, I have a seven year old son. Money matters. Of course it matters. But if I thought more about money I would be in golf. I had three very important clients and I left it on 'stand by' for doing what I do in athletics.
Q. Do you have mileuristas athletes?
R. Yes, of course, and we work to stop being mileuristas and they sacrifice to achieve it, among other things, because you have to be realistic: things are not enough to play the flute almost anywhere, in almost no sector. They all tell you that work is difficult. This is why it is so important to persevere.
Q. And you persevere.
A. I think I am a good commercial. Especially if I believe in the product. Then I am able to sell ice to the Eskimos. But I need to believe because you can fool the sponsor once but no more. The next year it will kick you if you really can't justify it. So I need to believe. It is impossible for me to work with clients I don't believe in.
P. Are you afraid that there are companies that do not pick up the phone with the crisis that is coming?
R. I do not think. Up to that point no. First of all, there is education. But, in addition, we always work to leave the doors open. From there we know that life takes many turns and that, if you really deserve it, you will always find a place in the market. But we have to be aware of what that market demands: athletes come first.
P. It has been very clear in this conversation.
R. Look, the main thing is the preparation. Without being well prepared we are nobody. But from there things happen like the ones Saúl Craviotto told us about. He has more followers for having won in Master Chef than for having been an Olympic champion. I know this seems strange but it is so and I also know that not everyone is worth selling. But precisely we work to help them: we put our experience at your service.