After getting on the Olympic podium, the gymnast reveals that, after he was not selected for the 2019 World Cup, he was on the verge of retiring.
“Last year I was about to retire. But it was not because of the pandemic, it was before. There were people who wanted me out of gymnastics. They made my life impossible, they put me aside to discourage me, they tried to get me to I was going to retire. They even said that I was lazy and now I wonder: How does a lazy get an Olympic silver? I want to send a message to all those who did not trust me: even if they did not want to, I have succeeded, “he executed. Ray Zapata, already Olympic runner-up, against everyone. Against the Federation. Against their technical managers. Against a decision.
Almost two years ago, in October 2019, Shoe He was not chosen for the Stuttgart World Cup: they removed him from the team, the first reserve, and condemned him to suffering. The absence from the appointment was practically the least of it. The problem was that their qualification for the Tokyo Games was getting complicated. Far from the World Cup, where the majority of places are distributed, Zapata had to look for one of the few tickets that the World Cup delivered. Melbourne, Bak, Doha, Cottbus … one flight after another in post-pandemic life, with his wife Susana pregnant with his daughter Olympia, to ensure what by level could have been secured in the World Cup. He did it, he did it in Doha by inventing the ‘Zapata II’, an evolution of his own element, and the rage stayed inside him.
Until I released her this Sunday at the Ariake Gymnastics Center. Together with his coach, Benjamin Bango, the first to congratulate him in the mixed zone was Pablo del Ro, a psychologist at the High Performance Center (CAR) in Madrid, who had been sharing sessions with him for months and months. “Pablo has furnished me. He has made me put the focus where it was needed and, in the competition, he has helped me to change my mentality. I was always thinking: ‘I’m going to win, I’m going to win, I’m going to win.’ too aware of the rest. Now I know that I must focus on my exercise, on my diagonals, and the result will come “, explained the gymnast after having experienced” all possible feelings “during the final. “I have laughed, I have cried, I have pissed off …”.
At the end of his exercise, he celebrated – a shout, a fist in the air, then both of them, a hug with his technician – because he knew he had put one foot on the podium, but only in a few minutes did he start crying. Of the eight finalists, he was the second to participate and the strain of waiting was too much for him. “I had what I wanted, but there was so much left …”, he admitted after an almost perfect exercise. Of the seven diagonals he played, five were exceptional and only in two did he make small mistakes, such as the back foot in the reception of the second.
Go for it all with the Zapata I
In the first series, in fact, he threw a ‘Zapata I’, that move so his, and nailed it; from then on everything was going to be fine. “That was the plan. We were doubting until the last days about what exercise to do, whether to risk or bet on execution and, in the end, seeing the results of the rivals in the classification, we decided to risk everything to make it perfect or almost perfect”, analyzed his coach, Bango, excited, at the end of a long road.
Shoe He had been chasing another great medal since he was discovered with a bronze at the 2015 World Cup in Glasgow. Born in the Dominican Republic, emigrated to Lanzarote at the age of nine, devoted to gymnastics since the age of 11, he had sacrificed his adolescence to go to train at the CAR of Sant Cugat with his idol, Gervasio Deferr, and after the appearance of that 2015 came the problems. In the Ro 2016 Games he did not qualify for the final, then he injured his Achilles tendon, later the exclusion from the 2019 World Cup in Stuttgart and …
“This silver shows me that everything has been worth it,” he confessed, although that silver could have been perfectly gold. In fact, for a long time, Zapata himself thought it would be gold. “When the Israeli note came out [Artem Dolgopyat] I did not understand that they would place him first and me second. He had presented an exercise with more difficulty than me and if we were even he meant that my execution had been better. In the tiebreaker, since always, in all the history of the gymnast, she commands the execution before the difficulty. But not this time. Flip a lot, really. They pulled out of their sleeve a rule that I had not seen in my life. In fact I haven’t seen her yet, I’m going to look for her, of course I do “, promised the gymnast with an unease that calmed his technician, Bango.
As he understood and as they had assured him when claiming, the Israel Dolgopyat It was presented with a point of difficulty (6,600) more than Zapata (6,500) and in fact they ended up tied (14,933), but technically it was not because the Spaniard was better in the execution. In the execution they obtained exactly the same mark (8,433). It was that the Israel stepped once, with only one foot, outside the mat and that infraction carried him a penalty of 0.1 points that did not count for the tiebreaker. For this reason Zapata had to settle for silver. A silver that was happiness. A silver that was also, at the same time, of fury.