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Juan Postigos after gold and silver medal at the Bolivarian Games: “For 10 years I haven’t had a sponsor” | Judo | Juan Miguel Shutters | Paris 2024 | RMMD EMCC | FULL-SPORTS

He was in Tokyo 2020 and after that he already thought about gradually withdrawing from the highest competition; however, something changed and he decided this year to take it as a test to see how he felt. At a sporting level, the ‘Tiger’ has responded: runner-up in the Pan-American judo championship and gold and silver medals at the Bolivarianos. In addition, he was one of the two standard-bearers of the delegation in Valledupar.

But not everything is happiness. Shutters faces a harsh reality: the economic incentive he received from the IPD’s ‘Athlete Support Program’ was reduced, forcing him to look for a daily job (he fixes train cars in France, where he lives). As if that were not enough, the private company has turned its back on him for almost his entire sporting life, unfortunately now he is no exception.

Without sponsorship and with a decrease in the incentive of the IPD program, Postigos sees his sporting future with uncertainty. Although the Olympic Games will be in Paris (close to where he lives), the national judoka cannot say if he will do the Olympic cycle, and not because he does not want to, but because of external factors that complicate the situation. depose He spoke with him to find out more details about his reality and how he will go step by step in this year that he has described as a “test”. In the same way, to know his impressions after the Bolivarian Games.

Juan Postigos and María Luisa Doig, the flag bearers of the Peruvian delegation in the Bolivarian Games. (Renzo Salazar)

Have you recently been the Bolivarian Games, where we were fifth in the medal table, what balance do you make in this regard?

There have been quite a few young medalists, that is very positive for the country. In the case of judo, my sport, we missed a couple of medals that could have added more to the delegation, but it has been positive. We have to continue advancing and growing so that in the next Games [ODESUR] better results are achieved.

In your case, you achieved a gold and a silver medal, was that part of your plans?

Everyone is preparing for the gold, it was known that the category was very difficult, that there were young people with a lot of talent, but within the plans was to look for the gold medal, it was achieved. Unfortunately, by teams, the gold could not be achieved, but I think the judo boys behaved up to the task and I am very happy for all of them.

They have been special Bolivarians for you, because you were one of the flag bearers of the delegation, how did you feel?

It was an honor, because I didn’t expect to be the flag bearer, I didn’t know it either. I was surprised when I was in Lima and the truth was I was very honored, I felt that it was like a recognition of my career, of the years that I have been doing judo. I am quite happy that they have chosen me, knowing that there are also athletes of a good level.

The team was made up of experienced judokas, but also young people, that suits the group well…

Yes, it is a fairly mixed team, there are judokas who are at the height of their age, 24, 25 years old, already based on experience. There are also young people who are starting and there are others, those of us who already have experience and are in our last cycle, that makes the team more compact, so that each one can learn from the most experienced so that the boys continue to grow.

We talked before Tokyo 2020 and you said that this was going to be your last Olympic cycle, do you maintain that position or has something changed?

Now I am in a year of probation, trying to see what shape I am in. In each tournament, to feel if I can continue to give more or not, but it is also a personal and economic issue. Making the decision to go to Tokyo 2020 was a total commitment, the truth is that I currently work, I have a family life here in France. Although the support I had from the IPD was cut well below the level that corresponded to me, the people who are handling the ‘Support for the Athlete’ thing are unfortunate what they do, they question what one has been doing in the sport. By lowering my subsidy, they force me to work and I’m seeing that. I do not have any sponsor, any brand, there are many things to put on the table before making a decision to go to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. If things change over the course of the year, if I continue to have good results and if someone sponsors me and things are improving with the IPD [por el tema del apoyo]. in that case I would try to think twice, but for now I don’t make a decision, I’m just going tournament by tournament.

Are you currently subsidized by the IPD?

Yes, I thank the IPD very much, I have nothing to say to the IPD. The issue is with the people who control the ‘Athlete Support Program’. Before the Tokyo Games, I was at a subsidy level, where I was paid a good amount, but after the Olympic Games, in March, I was lowered two levels. This makes me earn as a Junior Pan American Games medalist, when the truth is that I have been at a good level for 10 years. Last year it was the Olympic Games, this year in April I was runner-up in the Pan American Games, I just won the Bolivarianos and so they question my performance and they lower me two levels without me knowing why. Without having any criteria, it’s a lack of respect for me, but I’m still there, that doesn’t make me give up, I’m still training. I hope to continue competing soon and show my level.

Have you talked with those responsible for them to put you back in the category you were in?

The person in charge of the IPD methodology gets quite stubborn, I don’t know why, despite having won the Bolivarianos, being a Pan American silver medalist, I know what level corresponds to me. I hope that my federation takes care of that, I am in their hands. [La persona encargada de la metodología] He does not give me a reason, he only tells me why I was not a medalist in Lima 2019, but I tell him that I was this year and last year a Pan American judo medalist. In Lima 2019, it didn’t go well for me, but I went to the Olympics. I don’t know what criteria they are using, for them the Pan American Games that took place three years ago is more important than not having gone to the Olympic Games. I don’t know what criteria this person who handles the methodology at the IPD has, I just hope this is resolved soon.

Juan Postigos has participated in three Olympic Games (London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020).  (EFE)
Juan Postigos has participated in three Olympic Games (London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020). (EFE)

Is the job you have there related to judo?

No, I have had the obligation to work in the French national railway service (SNCF), I repair train carriages. I have to get up every day at 6 in the morning to repair the wagons, and in the afternoons it gives me time to prepare physically. I try to balance my daily life like this, working and training. This [mi trabajo] I learned it out of necessity.

Due to all the external factors, you still haven’t decided if you will face this new Olympic cycle…

Yes, it is a year of trial for many things. I am in a stage of my life, where I am 33 years old, one has to save bread for May, because maybe one day I will be a father, I don’t know. If at some point I make a family, my son will not grow up with nothing, that is what I do not want, I find myself in a stage of a mature, adult person. I would like to try one more Olympic cycle, knowing that I live in France, but everything depends on their trying to support me, on giving the economic contribution so that I can dedicate myself to this, because if he is going to do the same as always, the truth is that I would think about it, I know that the sacrifice is very hard. That’s why I’m at that stage, of analyzing things and going step by step, I don’t want to rush.

In sports, how have you felt physically and mentally?

Pretty good, I feel like it’s been a good competition. The preparation has been very good, respecting the stages. It has been quite satisfactory how every moment of the two months between the Pan American Games was prepared [de judo] and the Bolivarians. The results have been given, now what it touches is a strong time of preparation until September, which is where perhaps the competitions that we are going to carry out will be evaluated.

Will your next competition be the South American Games?

I don’t know yet, because in October there will be several competitions and according to that the Judo Federation will decide which one we will do, because the ODESUR Games are joined with the Judo World Cup and we don’t know what we will do. We must be prepared for when that time comes.

In an ideal world with the respective financial support, you wouldn’t even be thinking about having a new Olympic cycle, right?

If I had one or two sponsors and if the IPD puts me at the subsidy level that corresponds to me, I would not hesitate to do one more Olympic cycle. The issue goes through that, in having the extra help that allows me to complete the entire Olympic cycle, without the need to think that my family lacks, to be able to complete the month or pay for certain things, because I live here in France , I have my house, my things, it’s more on that side. Go through that peace of mind, if I have this support that they are going to help me financially, come on, I’ll launch myself. For 10 years I have no sponsor.

At what age did you start practicing judo?

I started when I was six years old, I started representing the country in children’s categories when I was 11 and when I was 16 I started representing them in the adult category. My first Bolivarian Games were in 2005, when I was 16 years old.

Have you not had support throughout your sports life?

No, at some point the IPD did a sponsorship program, at some point the engineer Arturo Woodman supported me for a couple of years, but from then on nobody dedicated himself to supporting me. I know that the subject of marketing, of publishing content on social networks, is important. I know I don’t do it that much, but when I tried to do it, when I started to do it, they didn’t notice me, when I knocked on the door of a sports marketing agency to see if they could support me or join them, they closed me down the door in the face. With that negativity, I just focused on what I have and getting by with it. And so with all that, I was able to qualify for three consecutive Olympic Games, but nobody has been interested in me, it is what it is, before that I only had to look for a job like a normal person to match that extra help that you lack.

Throughout your career you have dealt with these issues, but what has been the biggest problem you have had to deal with or is this now the biggest?

I am grateful, because I came to France with a scholarship, to train here, that’s how I started. The issue of scholarships is over, since then I have had to deal with various things. I’ve been through worse with my mom passing in 2017, that was more shocking than this. I have that good will and that faith, capable of going out openly to say that I lack this or that thing, it can be beneficial for someone to want to help me or seek support for me, well I hope so.

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