Spanish Olympic rowing champion trains at Retiro Pond

Marina Manzanares is a 13-year-old Olympic rowing prodigy with a prophetic first and last name. When the worst of the pandemic was over, she started training because she couldn’t imagine herself playing basketball with a mask on, and in just three years she managed to become Spanish champion. This achievement is already a feat, Epic coloring is achieved when its condition is taken into account. The distance that Marina trains for in the 1000m race is a quarter of the straight distance of the pond in Retiro Park.

Every morning at eight o’clock, this girl would walk alone and review the 250 meters on an empty stomach. At nine-thirty, he finished his meal and went home for breakfast: orange juice, turkey and tomato toast, with a Coke every now and then. After school in the afternoon, he returns to work from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm.Hot, cold, rain or shine, Marina can keep going to the ship where they baptized in his name Six days a week.

His childish smile belied the appearance of a more mature athlete. He assures that one of the people he admires most in the world is his coach Oscar Sanz. The recognition is mutual. The manager of the Retiro 66 rowing club (the year it was founded) has been going to this Madrid pond every day for more than half a century and assures that he has rarely seen anyone like Marina. «This is a real phenomenon. I have a lot of respect for people who train in such a small place and achieve so much. If she continues to train at this level, she can reach the highest level she wants. Including the Olympics,” he said.

Next to him, the athlete smiled and said that she now prefers “to do regattas again and again.” Her face lights up as she talks about a discipline she only discovered three seasons ago that has changed her on every level. “I lost 16 kilos to get fit for the game and now I have a scholarship to an academy for high-level athletes like myself. They allow us to combine those two things easily. I’m the only one committed to Rowing people. Indeed, winter is hard, The weather was very, very cold, so I left home at night. But I gave it my all and strictly adhered to everything the coach told me. During the first hour I was completely alone, I was competing with myself, and it was painful. I’m so used to it that they even bother me when other boats show up,” she said.

Marina didn’t start rowing on her first day. “The truth is that at first I preferred being in a boat to going out on the sea. I was afraid of small boats because I fell once and it was too thin and seemed unstable and complicated to me. Then you realize this is better and more comfortable , because you are alone, everything depends on you, everything is in your hands. When I participated in the Spanish Championship for the first time in 2021, I finished second to last, “he said modestly.He remembers his coach telling him, amid laughter, that he was “A diamond in the rough, but rougher than a diamond.”

In addition to her water training, Marina also undergoes an intense daily training routine, which includes running through Retiro and up and down the slopes of Moiano fourteen times. In this sport, 90% of the muscle groups are involved. Oscar noted that, contrary to what most people believe, “Rowing is 70% legs; They are much more important than the upper body. With the feet fixed, the movement is like a weighted squat, engaging the entire body. Nutrition is also important in his opinion, and for this reason he is in contact with the parents of athletes (he has been training for around thirty years) to ensure that this area is adequately covered. The same goes for learning. “I place a lot of emphasis on them being good students in high school because discipline in all areas is critical for athletes.”

Speaking about this feat, which took place last July in the town of Castelló de Mino (Ourense), Marina Manzanares remembers the comments of a Galician coach who simply did not Believe it or not, because she is the only coach of her kind: “He said that a man who rowed 250 meters could not win the Spanish championship.. In fact, the Retiro athlete defeated a fourteen-year-old girl in the children’s category. All in four minutes and six seconds. “The truth is, after I finished the season, I thought I could do really well. I also won the rowing machine and I felt ready. It lasted three days, Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday. About thirty athletes participated,” he explained. For now, the Retiro champion plans to focus entirely on her studies and rowing. One day she wants to be a veterinarian. “I had to alternate my sports life with my social life and my classes at the academy. In my rowing team, there were about a dozen athletes, and they also became friends and did other things together.

Teachers and students loudly discussed the results of the World Rowing Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia, from September 3 to 10. Spain received 3 finalists and 4 fixed Olympic places for the 2024 Paris Olympics. my country participated in this event with 10 standard boats and 3 Paralympic boats. Although he failed to defend the two silver medals he won last year, he was awarded a number of Olympic passports not seen since Athens 2004.

Oscar is located at the foot of a pier that is open every day from January to December. Since they trained outside the boat opening hours, they never encountered tourists. «“Of course it’s impossible to train without collisions because we’re going backwards.”Marina said.

He was also a promising rower but had to retire at the age of 17 due to serious illness. He also beat two cancers. For 53 years, his life has been linked to the legendary club in Retiro Park. “The truth is that rowing in Madrid is purely anecdotal because the right conditions do not exist due to the distance. The Casa de Campo straight is even shorter than this one. When we train for longer periods, sometimes we go to the Vilon reservoir, Because we can no longer train in Valmayor. “Because of the good results our athletes are achieving, there’s very little talk about this sport.”

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