MARÍA VICENTE, COMBINED EVENT ATHLETE

"If you keep fighting and working hard, in the end, however hard it is, you'll get there"

#sport #women #gender equality

She's only 18 and she's already broken several records: the Spanish senior indoor record in pentathlon, world youth champion in heptathlon, silver in the Youth Games 2018, European under-18 Gold medal in Triple Jump, Spanish under-20 long jump record... This young woman from Catalonia who didn't like athletics may well be an Olympic champion before she is 20 years old if she classifies for Tokyo 2020.

FIND OUT HOW SHE GOT INVOLVED IN ATHLETICS

María José Vicente, María's mother: "When Maria started training she did well in competitions. She would win and there was a bit of everything there, some people supported her and others would say 'the thing is that she's bigger', 'she wasn't born here' and this, that and the other."

María Vicente, combined event athlete: "I don't think it was because I was very tall or my colour or anything else, but rather because when you are little you get beaten sometimes and you don't want to accept that it's because the other person is better."

"You always have to show the best you can do and what you've been training for and everything you have inside. It doesn't matter what opinion people have."

María José Vicente: "Watching her run is spectacular. It gives me goose bumps."

María Vicente: "Since I was little, my mother had always told me to try athletics. I didn't want to because I thought athletics was just running, and I was a little girl who said I didn't want to get tired."

María José Vicente: "María. Why don't you sign up?”. 'No, I don't want to run'. All right then. Maybe next year. The following year, the same thing: 'I don't want to run, I'm really tired, I don't want to run'. There was no way."

María Vicente: "My mother and aunt tricked me. They said we were going to see a film and they took me to the athletics track."

María José Vicente: "No, no, it wasn't me who tricked you. You went with your aunt."

María Vicente: "No, mum. You said we were going to the cinema and you took me there with my cousin to try it out."

María José Vicente: "But it was your aunt, because every time I tried you said no."

María Vicente: "Yes. Because I didn't like it."

María José Vicente: "Ah, so you didn't like it. How about now?"

María Vicente: "Now I do [giggles]."

María José Vicente: "Now you love it, don't you?"

María Vicente: "Yes."

María José Vicente: "What a cutie!"

Fernando Martínez, María's coach: "María Vicente is an exceptional athlete. She was achieving senior level results before she was even an adult."

Announcer: "María Vicente! She's run 3 seconds faster than she had to. That's a new Spanish pentathlon record!"

Fernando Martínez: "She's only 18 and her international results are spectacular."

María Vicente: "The world championship in Nairobi was a complete surprise to me. Because I was hoping to be a finalist among the top eight, and I was fighting for a gold or a silver medal. I went for it and it paid off."

"It was a turning point in my life to say: 'Without preparing, to go to a world championship and win...'. It was like saying: 'Wow, well if I truly want this and I train for it, I might be able to do it”. That's when I decided to go to the High Performance Centre and take it more seriously."

Fernando Martínez: "Everyone around her expects a lot from María and it does affect her, but it affects her in a positive way. She is an athlete who is stimulated by challenges, being under pressure makes her grow."

María Vicente: "There's some pressure because it's like: 'Blimey, now if I don't do it, what will they say'. But that motivates me and makes me want to keep trying, keep fighting and training to do it."

"I don't like limiting myself, it's like, if you set a limit, subconsciously you are saying that is as far as you are going to get and you are not going to fight for more."

María José Vicente: "She's very competitive. She loves winning. She loves it. She knows how to take failure, too, but she'd rather win."

María Vicente: "My plan B is to stick with plan A. You have to keep fighting for what you want, but I think that if you keep fighting and training and trying, in the end, however hard it might be, you'll get there."