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  • Months ago, Carolina Marín: active confinement, an online psychologist, a five-year gold medal and a Huelva World Cup in the air

«There is always a silly day that costs you more and you think: For what? Without the Olympics, without a World Cup, without a European, motivating yourself costs more, you tend to lower the intensity of training ... but in the end you go back to the origins. Why am I an athlete? Because I like. Now, without competition, passion is the most important thing, it is what pushes you », exposes the hammer thrower Javier Cienfuegos , finalist in the last World Cup in Doha, before the problem that most Olympians face these days. They can now train again, they have already been reunited with their techniques, they have already reopened tracks, pavilions, swimming pools, gyms and High Performance Centers (CAR), but the coronavirus pandemic has left a huge void: there is almost nothing in the calendar.

Until the end of August or the beginning of September the competition will not return and, when it does, in most cases it will be reduced to Spanish championships, local meetings or modest tournaments. Whoever has an important date has a treasure. With this panorama and taking into account that the Tokyo 2021 Olympics are now 13 months away, the main problem is to find the motivation.

"The brain sometimes says, 'I don't know if that effort is worth it.' And for those times you have to be very clear about the long-term goal. Carolina [Marín] wants to be the best badminton player in history and, although she cannot be thinking about it every day, she is the stimulus that we resort to in those weaker days ”, argues Fernando Rivas , the coach of the entire life of the badminton champion of everything with a plan for the second Olympic gold of her pupil. After a few weeks post-confinement in which the purpose was to breathe, to recover the mind after everything that happened -including a serious accident by the player's father-, they have now returned to action. They go up and down the CAR of Sierra Nevada to increase the preparation until you can compete.

“We are in a strange preseason, but in a preseason. At the moment, we are doing basic exercises on the track, with little uncertainty, so that Carolina can regain mobility and we direct attention to detail. Now is the time to work on specific technical and tactical movements that perhaps in the middle of the competitive period we could not attend to, "concludes Rivas with a conclusion shared by many: you have to take a step back and focus on the little things.

Double confinement in contact sports

In fact, in contact sports until now there was no other. Until the start yesterday of the so-called 'new normality' they were prohibited from touching, the very nature of their discipline, and they had to dedicate themselves to other matters. Today they assume that they can grab, hit, trip, jump, but they are not very clear about it either. In the case of judoka Niko Shera , world champion in 2018, the plan remains focused on physical preparation. "We work morning, afternoon and night trying to replace specific judo training with physical circuits. The tatami is our house, where we are happy and until now they did not allow us to step on it or in pairs, only one by one, but we could not stop either. After confinement, a break of more weeks would have been very difficult to recover. We had to keep the tone and now, if we can fight, we will do it with more enthusiasm than ever, "says Quino Ruiz , coach of Shera and other Olympians such as Fran Garrigós or Laura Martínez .

During the confinement, Shera settled in Ruiz's house and was rebuilt there. For someone who was looking for gold in the Games since he was a child, the postponement was a stick, but now it is just one more obstacle on the road, like a defeat, like an injury.

In fact, for some precisely because of this, the competition gap has not been so serious. Those who had physical problems have seen how this summer in white freed them from missing tournaments or arriving at the Games with the right forces. This is the case of Eva Calvo , silver in taekwondo, who came from breaking both menisci and her sister Marta , also an Olympian, who fractured her nose at the beginning of the year. «I have taken the opportunity to strengthen the muscles in the areas where I suffered injuries and now in July I will take my first long vacation because overall ... In our case the competition will not arrive until the end of October with the Spanish Open so it is better to give it a rest for the body, air the mind, and start the Olympic season with the batteries charged », summarizes Eva Calvo who, like the rest of those questioned, has a wish: that next year the pandemic is controlled and in summer they can be dispute, this time yes, the Tokyo Games.

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