The American pre-Olympic Games that had been scheduled for March was cancelled due to the global health emergency and with it the dreams of reaching the top event in sport were put on hold, but the illusions remain, as it is only a question of moving the dates.
In February, the World Boxing Association held a training and support Camp with eleven teams from the Americas and European guests. The Argentine team was present at this event and would be the hosts of the qualifying competition to Tokyo. After the whole experience, we talked with the captain of the female amateur team, Lucía Pérez, to know the sensations and ways they keep on the road during the quarantine:
We learned of the suspension two weeks before the pre-Olympic period through rumors that we later confirmed with the technical staff who explained well the situation to us but the measures that we are living now at that first moment were not there. At that time there were still meetings to finalize things. When I found out, I was with one of the boys of the team and we got very upset because we were in the last part of the preparation, finalizing details. We had been training for so long and with only two weeks before the long-awaited moment for all of us, we were gripped by despair because we didn’t really understand what was going on. In the afternoon we met with the trainers for our agreed session and there we could talk with them and catch up with everything, but honestly, at least from my side, that day we trained unwillingly because we wondered what so much effort was for.
Then as the days went by we realized that we had to continue training and that when the time came we would be in good condition, since by that time we were still training at the CENARD, until we were informed that it was closing, which was when everything really fell apart and we understood how serious the situation was. At the same time, we couldn’t understand why, if in Europe the qualifying round was taking place when the situation was much more serious than here, why not here? The European Championship is now cancelled.
From March 20 we began with the mandatory quarantine in Argentina and Fabricio Nieva (one of the Argentinean national team trainers) began to send us everything that makes the physical part to be worked on at home. The issue was having to adapt everything to the space and the equipment that everyone has at home because not all of us have the same. For example, some of the children have the possibility of doing combat school at home, like Milagros Herrera and Francisco Veron who have more family members in boxing, so they have that possibility. Then, there were those of us who are alone. Luckily, I have a bag in my house but there are also those who don’t have it. So, all the work is adapted to the possibilities of each one.
Regarding social media, luckily, we are all connected, and I see them all training. Milagros is the one I talk to the most, since she was the last incorporation to the women’s team. Most of them are very young boys who have just started on this path, so they are looking forward to it. In my case, although I am eager, I had a moment of depression when I learned that it was postponed for a year. I have been part of the national team for six years and since the qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ended I have not qualified, and I have been waiting for this new opportunity. So, it was a very hard blow for me.
Anyway, we keep in touch with the teachers and colleagues through a group we have where we ask questions and they give us all the exercises. Now, for the last two weeks, we have been taking classes with the zoom platform together. It’s a bit complicated but it’s good because you can correct things at the moment and see your colleagues and teachers on the other side, it motivates you more than training alone.
At first, when it was announced that the Olympic Games were to be held next year, the truth is that I wasn’t training because I was really sad about it. I allowed myself to feel bad and not train the first couple of days, but I had to get up and get back. You have to train; I am a high-performance athlete. Now I’m already doing two shifts because I made up my mind: I’m a high-performance athlete and I can’t stop. My teammates are also keen, in spite of everything that’s happening, and I think that for those who joined the team last, it’s great that the dates have been moved because they’ll have more time to keep learning and growing. As captain I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone during this time and now, I’m happy that everyone will have more time to be better prepared for the qualifiers. It’s very nice the bond we achieved as a team and it really helps us to get through these times.
Even though we don’t have a specific focus on boxing, like sparring or combat school, we continue working on the importance of staying in good physical shape, not losing muscle mass, and when we come back, it will help us not to have to start from scratch because to stop now would be to throw away all the work we had been doing. We must know that we have to take care of ourselves and keep our health, without that we have nothing. We all want to go out, to compete, to travel but without health we could not do it. So, we have to take care of ourselves and keep focused, motivated for what is coming, because this is not forever.
This has been the story of Lucía Pérez from Argentina, based on her personal experience and on behalf of the team, about the experience of the young people who have managed to train at home to continue on the path that will lead them to the Olympic dream.