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"We have reached Mars," she will hear, but Mars will be Utah, and she will be in Barcelona, from where she will dream of Paris. What a mess. But that's the life of Helena Arias.
A look at his Linkedin stresses: Arias, 21, born in Barcelona, resident in the CAR of Sant Cugat, practices Olympic shooting with such success that he can reach the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, studies at the same time three careers of the difficult -Mechanical Engineering and Electronic Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona and Physics at the National University of Distance Education (UNED)- and, among other things, such as inventing water plugs that are used as light bulbs or doing practices in the Alba synchrotron, is part of the Spanish Hypatia I project that investigates the possibility of a trip close to Mars. How do you do it? Your days must be more than 24 hours.
"I'm going ass, I won't deny you. But I'm quite organized and try not to go out of my schedule. During the week I go to class and practice from 08.00 to 14.00, I train from 15.00 to 20.30 and at night and on weekends I dedicate myself to Hypatia. Since I was little I was interested in science and shooting was my hobby so now I have put everything together, "explains Arias in conversation with EL MUNDO in the CAR and details all the activities in which he participates. Starting, of course, with Hypatia. Are you really preparing a mission to Mars?
"It's an investigation to that end, yes, yes. We are a team of nine scientists. Some will travel next month to Utah, where the Mars Desert Research Station is located, which recreates the conditions of Mars as best as possible, and others will stay here, in Barcelona, for support. The group is multidisciplinary, there are biologists, engineers, astrophysicists or data analysts and the objective is to discover the maximum about what a mission would be like", details the scientist and sportsman, the athlete and scientist, who received the call to be part of the crew through an acquaintance of the Joves i Ciencia program of the Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera.
Her profile is fortunate for the team because she has not only been in charge, as an engineer, of preparing the machinery for the trip, she has also carried out the physical preparation of her teammates. Curious loves hers: as a child she fell in love with science between classes and visits to the Cosmocaixa museum and as a teenager, with a rather peculiar Olympic sport.
His love of shooting
"Most people who practice Olympic shooting are already because their family already did it or because they went to a fair and saw that the shotgun was good for them. I didn't start either way. At the age of 15, I tried it with my brothers at the stand of the Catalan Federation at the Saló de la Infància [the Christmas fair in Barcelona] and the three of us signed up," recalls Arias, who specializes in the rifle. Junior European champion in 2021, in the next competitions, especially in the absolute World Cup this August, she will look for the ticket for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
"It's complicated, but it's not impossible. In Europe there is a lot of level and the system to achieve a place is not easy, but in training I have shown myself that I can reach the score that is needed, "he analyzes. His Olympic debut could lead to some professionalization, to greater access to scholarships, even to sponsors, but he is clear that his future is science.
"You can't live from shooting, I know that my studies will feed me. Although my idea is to keep the two paths as long as I can. For example, when I finish studying careers here I would like to do a PhD abroad. Learn more about particle accelerators, or about aerospace mechanics... And my intention is to continue training. I hope to find shooting facilities wherever I go and be able to continue," says Arias, between science and shooting, two different worlds, very different. "They really aren't, not at all," he warns.
"A year after starting shooting, I realized that it was less difficult for me to study. Every day with the shot I train my concentration. The mental effort to focus, not to dissipate, comes easy for me, "he reveals at the beginning of a year that will be a trip. From Barcelona he will talk to Mars, which will be Utah, and dream of Paris.
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- Articles Javier Sánchez