There he was still, in a place from which he did not want to leave. It was like resisting waking up after a dream. I’m not leaving here, no. The track, Tokyo. That place and that moment are unique, the best of a life, short life, but they can be much better. At age 21 and after a preparation between the artisan and the emotional, the margin for improvement of Asier Martinez on the 110 hurdles it is huge. The sixth place in an Olympic final already places this appearance of Spanish athletics ahead of Javier Moracho Y Carlos Sala, two greats of the tradition of our fences. They were seventh. Then came Orlando ortega, made outside, in Cuba. Asier arrives from Zizur, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain.
The Tokyo finalists are presented on their way out to the track as if they were ‘starlets’. Athletics seeks the ‘show’. Each one leaves a gesture. Asier, none. He shot out, concentrating on what was on his mind. Frivolities, nothing. I look straight ahead, on 2nd street, not at their rivals, monsters like Grant holloway, who was eaten by the Olympic final. Scenic fear. The Spanish, on the other hand, puts him. As it happened in 800 with Adrin ben or in triple with Ana Peleteiro, comes a generation of competitors on fire. Maybe not on the best registers, not yet, but on the best of themselves in their D days.
“IT IS THE BRAND THAT IS WORTH HERE”
Asier was, by improving his 13.27 in the semifinals to take them to 13.22. “It is the brand that I know is worth in these Games and it has come out when it had to go out,” said the Navarrese, serene, after they forced him to leave the track and go towards the mixed zone. He didn’t want to, because the scorching Tokyo sun is his place in the sun, as if he were walking around the Plaza de Pamplona after the San Fermn summit run.
Very technical in his passage through the fences, the Navarrese started last after the start, but the passage of each obstacle consolidated his figure and, after 90 meters, he progressed steadily to cross the finish line sixth. His top speed in the test was 33.9 kilometers per hour. It was the fastest he could run in a final with a podium beyond the reach of his times. At the moment. Hansle pachment, the Jamaican who beat Holloway, did so in 13.04.
The American was the big loser, since silver does not fill an athlete who has been so superior this year, in which he has remained one hundredth of the world record. Has raced at 12.81. With that time, silver tastes like chocolate. He could not hide it despite the hugs offered to the winner. The other American, Davon allen, was left off the podium with 13.14, in a final that restores some of the power lost by Jamaica in men’s sprint. Usain Bolt has orphaned them.
“This has been the best of my career and my life, and now I want to celebrate it with a good spree with my team and my training group,” said Asier. They had all been very aware of the hurdler on television. Mtele, Asier, Mteleee !! With that battle cry, most of their messages ended in a video sent from Pamplona.
His coach started it, Franois Beoringyan, settled in the Navarran capital 19 years ago. He directs the group of height and hurdles of the Attico Pamplona, but does not live on athletics. Away from the elite preparation circuits, he soon learned what he was up to and sent videos of the Navarrese to important hurdlers he contacted to help him improve with their advice and corrections.
Before the final, Beoringyan was already clear that “if Asier has been able to run at 13.27 at 21, why not think of 13.10 at 29.” Now it’s 13.22. With 13.10, it is possible to settle on the big podiums. It is with which in Tokyo the bronze was placed Ronald Levy, also from Jamaica. At the moment, he is already the second youngest Spaniard to be an Olympic finalist (classified among the first eight), after Antonio Corgos in longitude, in Moscow’80.
“DON’T THINK THAT NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”
The coach, raised in France, is in love with the Cuban school of hurdles, which is distinguished by a refined technique in the passage of obstacles. Three measured strides, Asier gives between one and the other. He does it, despite being myopic, with two prescription diopters, without glasses or contact lenses. “I see little, really”, the athlete admits, laughing. “He does the race from memory, he does not need them, he is focused on his street, with very marked automatisms,” adds Beoringyan.
“I’m wanting more, but what has to come will come,” concluded the hurdler. Paris awaits him, 24 years old, but before many other things. The union he has found with his coach has been key. In his case, the postponement of the Games for one year due to the pandemic was an opportunity to improve. Political Science student in Bilbao, he will save travel by following the degree ‘online’ and being able to spend more time in Pamplona. This harmony with the technician is not strictly technical, but also emotional. Beoringyan claims to be like a second father to this son of a hurdler. Before traveling to Tokyo, he told her: “Don’t ever think that something is impossible, forget it and give it a shot.” “Meteleeee!”