29 years ago, goalkeeper Juan Carlos Holgado Romero achieved Olympic glory at the Barcelona Olympics. This Cacereño born circumstantially in Germany has seen how he is no longer the only golden athlete in the Extremaduran city. The surprising emergence of climber Alberto Ginés and his title in Tokyo has filled him with joy, as well as pride, for accompanying him in such a spectacular service record for the sport of Extremadura. At 53, he lives in Lausanne (Switzerland), where he is professionally dedicated to archery. Holgado speaks here of Ginés, whom he advises and values extraordinarily, anticipating that he will handle his success well.
How did you find out that you were no longer the only person from Cáceres with an Olympic gold medal?
I found out instantly. I was following the Games through radio and television and I suppose it would be within five minutes of getting it. I was very happy because he is a very young boy from Cáceres and with talent. It is a great satisfaction, I am delighted with your success.
What remains of that 24-year-old boy who achieved glory in Barcelona?
Well, I hope a lot. More mature, more gray … but with great enthusiasm in the things that motivate me. I have the joy of working in what I love, which is sport and its management. And also in my sport, in archery. I hope I stay long. My family tells me that I am still a child. I have a few years to mature, but also a lot of that 24-year-old boy.
How is your life in and out of sport?
Well, very busy. I live in Lausanne, the Olympic capital, I am director of the Foundation of the International Archery Federation and also of the High Performance Center, so the days are very busy between managing logistics and budgets and I also dedicate time to train high-level athletes who come to the center, in addition to its own promotion. I work 8-10 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. I spend the rest with my family, with my 13-year-old son Lucas and my wife, Raquel. Besides, I like to play tennis and a bit of everything related to sports. I try to stay healthy at 53 years old, in short.
Over time, what would change about those years as an elite athlete?
Any. We always complain about the lack of facilities and means, but it is also true that this lack of facilities and means made us be more creative, more fighters, more ‘crushing’, which would change little. That there would be fewer conflicts, perhaps, since then there were too many from regional federations such as Extremadura to Spanish. I was the first professional athlete to dedicate myself to archery and to make this my life was a revolution. Many barriers had to be broken and I had to fight a lot. I had help from my family and from people who believed in me, but this created many conflicts and tensions. That would be the only thing that would change, if anything, from that time. Being a pioneer is always difficult because you have to open paths, but I would have liked to have less resistance and more support. Outside of that, it also made me more of a competitor, more of a fighter, more looking for solutions when things are difficult. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Any advice for Alberto Ginés about what comes next?
I do not know if I can. The first thing is to know, and he will know it better than I, that this is a very important success. The Olympic Games are more than anything else, more than the world championships. Socially they have a lot of repercussion. After two years of being a world champion, you are no longer a world champion, you are the ‘former world champion’. However, that Olympic gold medal will accompany him throughout his life and he will have more credibility and prestige, but also more responsibility. It will be a role model, a model of an athlete. From what little I have seen him in the press, he seems like a humble and nice boy. For the rest, I would tell you to stay motivated, doing what you like and that, when you finish your sporting life, if you are able to give back what you have given and help others, then very well. It is an enormous satisfaction to help others achieve their dreams, the one that he has just achieved and I did at the time. From what I see, despite his youth, Alberto is going to handle that success well and in the right measure, as great athletes do with Pau Gasol or Rafa Nadal: with humility, realism and working day by day.
Fátima Agudo continues working for her sport and obtaining absolute national titles. What do you think of it?
Fatima is a phenomenon. It is admirable, it is commendable, it is an example of how you can go from competitive elite sport to playful competitive sport. She trains with great perseverance, but she is a mother, a wife… and although she has her limitations, that does not stop her from continuing to think higher and getting the best out of each moment. It may not be there to win a world championship, but it is for the championships in Spain and with a lot of solvency. She is an example to follow for every athlete and I am very happy about it and congratulate her whenever I can.
When it comes to archery facilities and possibilities in your land, what is your diagnosis?
Yes, there has been a lot of progress in the sports facilities and there is a room and the knowledge of how to do planned workouts. It has evolved a lot, but it can always be improved. The deputation’s firing range is on the outskirts, it is not easily accessible. I follow Extremadura sport from a distance through friends like Tato, Fátima’s husband, who informs me, Fátima herself or the president of the Extremadura federation, Raquel de San Macario, but I’m not fully up to date. I read the Extremaduran newspapers and I follow the news from my land because it interests me and because my family is still there, but not minute by minute. You can get a little more for the quarry that there is, of course.