It’s been a few days. Enough to go home and go on vacation. It is necessary to rest. The fact is that, despite all these procedures, Lucía Rodríguez is still in a cloud. The young 18-year-old player from Salvador made history in Spanish badminton a week ago. Pairing up with Nikol Carulla from Alicante, she was proclaimed junior European champion in doubles. The first continental medal in this modality for her Spain. “We are still assimilating it,” she answers on the other end of the phone with what seems like a perpetual smile. Indelible. An immense joy, which is worth her weight in her feathers.
That European title came in Belgrade, after hanging the team bronze. And unexpectedly. Because Lucía had a very overloaded quadriceps in her right leg, which caused her early elimination from the individual draw -in the second round-. But there is no evil that for good does not come. The player from O Condado was able to give it her all in the doubles, despite the fact that the pair formed exclusively for the event. Her usual partner, Ania Setién, is a year older and can no longer compete in the junior category. That is why she formed a tandem with Carulla, whom she knows from sharing a residence in Pontevedra.
The victory was forged ‘in growing’. “We entered the first game quite nervous. It didn’t go very well for us and, in fact, we almost lost. But we took it out and then we gained confidence”, recalls Lucía. Then more. And more. And more. “Every round we got through, we freaked him out more. When we got on the podium it was incredible and when we won, whew… the whole day crying”, recalls the woman from Salvaterreno, which she points out as a highlight “when the anthem sounded at the top of the podium”.
Days later, Rodríguez continues to process what happened. “Our first medal and that it be doubles, which is what we train the least. And on top of gold!”, exclaims Lucía, who crowns it with expressiveness: “At what moment did this just happen!”. An expression that clearly reflects the happiness that overflows her voice. Pounds and pounds of her. feathers above the net.
“In the team tournament we realized our level”
The week before the singles and doubles draws, Belgrade hosted the European Team Championships. Spain hung the bronze medal, with Lucía Rodríguez actively collaborating with it. Salvaterra’s won valuable points for the team, both singles and doubles. Here she premiered the tandem with Nikol Carulla and both confirmed that they were in a position to, at least, compete with the best. “We played all the women’s doubles together, we beat very strong couples and we realized that we were at the level of the good ones,” she says.
Lucia savored that date in a special way. “It’s nice because we’re always together and we support each other all the time,” explains the Salvadoran, who, like any individual athlete, enjoys collective achievements even more. “I like it a lot. In the usual tournaments you go more on your own because each one has their matches at different times, ”she acknowledges.
In that sense, he points to the victory in the quarterfinals as a particularly emotional moment for overcoming a barrier marked in red for his group. “When the boys won the men’s doubles, we jumped on the court and we all hugged each other while crying. We had been losing in the quarterfinals for several years and having reached the semifinals was a liberation, “he highlights. And from there, to the drawer.