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“I do not have time for anything”

The Olympic champion in Rio 2016 spoke with Clarín about her current projects, a year and a half after her retirement.

Little does not stop. Moveable, hyper busy, committed, in the same day Paula Pareto you can go from working on building a subfloor on a charity project, to preparing to go into surgery in the operating room.

You can appear at the cafeteria that you set up with your family in San Fernando and arrive with the minutes counted to an event at the French Embassy.

The judoka and Olympic medalist – she was world champion in 2015 and took gold in Rio 2016, becoming the first Argentine woman to be Olympic champion and the first Argentine athlete to win two Olympic medals in individual disciplines – left the sport professionally in 2021.


Paula Pareto, traumatologist at the Central Hospital of San Isidro, while doing a specialization.

It was a July 24, after his last fightthat Pareto announced his retirement after 16 years in the world elite.

But besides the 13 Pan American medals (six golds), three in Pan American Games (one gold), three in World Cups (one gold) and two in olympics (gold in 2016 and bronze in 2008), Paula could be considered a solidarity medalist.

For many years, it has accompanied the solidarity project Huella Saint Gobain, which brings together several ambassadors, most of them Olympic athletes, who choose a place to renovate and then the company goes and improves the infrastructure with its materials.

Against the Portuguese Catarina Costa in her last Olympic Games, Tokyo 2021.
Against the Portuguese Catarina Costa in her last Olympic Games, Tokyo 2021.

“With ‘la Huella’ we have been sponsoring different projects to support what is the Argentine reality for a long time and I think it is good to be able to be the visible face of social aid, which is very necessary today.

Now we are helping with the people of Akamasoa (after the death of the Olympic medalist Brian Toledo, who was the ambassador), who grow hydroponic strawberries, sell jams and build houses,” says the little girl.

Akamasoa is an NGO founded in Madagascar by the Father Peter Opeka. He built 22 neighborhoods with different communities and organizations, lifting more than 33,000 people out of poverty.

In Argentina, it was installed in the city of Lima, Province of Buenos Aires in 2019 following the same formula that worked in Madagascar: generate work, education and discipline.

“The idea, roughly, is to work and do things with dignity and respect. Earn your own home. At one point I collaborated on my own and now I do it through the people of Saint Gobain – a French multinational in the field of construction – and I am an official godmother and ambassador,” she says proudly.

En Master Chef Celebrity.
En Master Chef Celebrity.
Café Pareto, the family business in San Fernando.
Café Pareto, the family business in San Fernando.

And he adds: “I am happy to be able to collaborate with this, and with a lot of ventures, of dining rooms with the children. They are the ones who work, we athletes only put up our faces. It is a team work where everyone contributes their grain of sand“And those who accompany her say that she does not stay still for a minute and is capable of starting to hammer or make a subfloor in a matter of minutes.

Away from professional sport, Pareto allowed herself a few words in the face of the 2024 Olympics, which will take place in Paris during July of that year. For the local discipline, names like Matteo Etchechury -a judo talent with Olympic projection who dreams of being the first Mar del Plata to arrive in his sport- Keisy Perafan and Sofía Fiora.

“I think there are very good references in judo, there is a very good evolution of the sport in general and I hope that in the Paris Games they manage to explode in terms of results, in medals or in overcomings. One perhaps sees it more in medals but there is a lot of overcoming that at least I see it in the day to day of judo and I hope they continue like this and explode”he predicted.

Masterchef: Paula Pareto practiced a judo shot with Donato de Santis and the chef ended up on the floor.
Masterchef: Paula Pareto practiced a judo shot with Donato de Santis and the chef ended up on the floor.

In April, little Pareto left the reality show Masterchef Celebrity -despite being one of the public’s favorites- to dedicate herself fully to her career as a doctor. She studied and finished her residency at the Hospital Central de San Isidro, one of the several medical centers where she currently works as a traumatologist.

With cases 700 thousand followers on instagram, Paula shares her day to day, where photos of her training coexist with those of her long days in the operating room. “I have already finished the traumatology residency at the Central Hospital of San Isidro and now I am doing a subspecialty, such as a fellow very intensive, in different hospitals and sanatoriums, and I do not have time for anything“.

A historic neighbor of San Fernando, this post-pandemic year found her fulfilling a great family dream: the pareto cafe. “It’s something we had planned for a long time and it ended up happening in March of this year. We opened a cafeteria mainly with my sister, but the truth is that my whole family is there. My mom is going to help often, my dad collaborates, my brother it helps to do all the part of the tables”, lists Paula.

It was betting at a difficult time in the country, he acknowledges. Her sister and husband had lost their jobs in the pandemic “and they found this, many friends and family joined, who are living thanks to this. And I go when I can, because it is also five blocks from my house. I’m still a bit embarrassedPareto smiles.

She says that many people go looking to find her. “They tell me ‘we finally found you, it’s the third time we’ve come‘ and that they see you, the truth is that it gives me joy and it doesn’t cost me anything to go, say hello, take a picture of me and that people leave happy”.

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