Raquel González and Mar Juárez, two marchers who win and excite for their fighting spirit

BarcelonaThe athletic walk. Always the march. So forgotten, so misunderstood. The sport that was born within those competitions of other centuries to see who walked the most. And after so much walking, he ended up putting in another gear. Walking, a sport that so many people do not understand, unable to feel the pain in their legs after so many kilometers at a high pace maintaining coordination so that at all times there is one foot that touches the ground and with the fear of being disqualified if to go too fast the feet fly. A hard sport where many things go through your head, during the hours you suffer. But sometimes you suffer more to get to the test than once the starting shot has been fired. The Catalans Raquel González and Mar Juárez have shown this at the European Championships, where they had to face different illnesses in order to shine.

The march has changed the face of the Spanish delegation at the European Athletics Championships in Munich these days. In a few hours, Miguel Ángel López from Murcia won the gold medal in the 35 km race to continue the tradition born in the 80s, when two Catalans started a rivalry that led them to break barriers: Jordi Llopart, the first Spaniard to be an Olympic medalist in an athletics event with his silver in the 50 km march in Moscow in 1980, and Josep Marín, silver in the 1983 World Championships in the 50 km march and gold in the Europeans in 1981.

On the same day as López’s success, Matarona’s Raquel González won the silver medal in the women’s 35 km. The award for a long career where he has made a lot of sacrifices, where he has not had it easy at all. Look at what Gonzalez has suffered these last few days and, despite everything, he almost won the gold. In the end, the Greek Antigoni Ntrismpioti put one more gear to escape through the streets of the Bavarian capital. “I didn’t have the necessary energy to catch it,” said the athlete who belongs to FC Barcelona.

At 32 years old, this González medal has a very sweet aftertaste. The more you suffer, the more you enjoy a podium. The maresmenca, born from the Lluïsos de Mataró and the Agrupació Atlética Catalunya, made the jump to the CAR of Sant Cugat in 2004 to work with one of the fathers of the Catalan athletic march, Josep Marin. But after winning the championships of Catalonia and Spain so many times, he decided to take a leap forward by going to Madrid to work with José Antonio Quintana and start a life with many airports and train stations, from the CAR of Sant Cugat to the technical center of Madrid Already a two-time Olympian, she had set herself the goal of shining at this year’s World Championships in Eugene, in the United States. He did well, with a creditable fifth place. But on returning home he tested positive for covid-19, which made it difficult for him to prepare for the European Championships in Munich. While the other Spanish athletes worked concentratedly in León, she was waiting for the tests, to see when she could sweat again.

However, the coronavirus has not been González’s only obstacle this year. “I started the year injured and then I had mononucleosis. Before the World Cup, however, I was able to train well in the pre-concentration, but then the coronavirus came. “It’s been something that we’ve secretly carried my family and my team. We didn’t make it public because all the rivals read the press and we didn’t want to give hints,” he explained with the medal around his neck. “I thought about my parents. It has been a very hard year and this medal is a gift for them, who have suffered to see their daughter going through such a hard time. Some days they have come to training and have seen how hard it is,” he added.

Mar Juárez, a seventh position after suffering from cancer

If getting to Munich has been tough for González, it hasn’t been easy at all for the seventh ranked in the same test, Mar Juárez from Valais. Spain’s 50 km champion leaves in 2020, the athlete from Montornès del Vallès has had a complicated season, after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March. On the day he was due to go through the operating room, they did a PCR test and he tested positive for covid, so the operation had to be postponed for three weeks. In June, the athlete from Avinent Manresa, where she competes federally, used social networks to explain that she had already overcome the illness and would leave the hospital, with just a few weeks left for the World Championships, for which she was classified thanks to to the mark he had this season. Despite everything, he was able to finish the race and now, in Bavaria, he has finished seventh.

“Everything I’ve been through has made me stronger,” she explained in an interview with the newspaper Region 7 the 29-year-old marcher. Juárez started doing athletics when he was five and followed his brother, who did cross country. She wouldn’t get to the march until she was 12 years old to start a path that has led her to be among the best on the continent. Now, both Juárez and González are thinking about the 2024 Paris Olympics, where they can compete in both the 20km and 35km events. Just at a time when it is questioned whether a sport like marching should be Olympic, since it is difficult to make it attractive on television, the female marchers continue to show that sometimes, you need to know how to look to understand that where apparently there is only a group of people walking in a hurry, many things happen there. Like stories of overcoming that excite.



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