Don’t pray for a simple life, pray for the strength to resist a difficult life
Fran Garrigós (28) tells me:
–How many hours has my father been there, watching my training!
–Every afternoon since I started judo. Often three hours. My father would put me in the car, take me to the gym, wait for me in the stands and bring me back. He was deeply committed. After all, it had been my parents who had decided to recruit me for judo.
And why did they do it?
–As a child, I was very active, you know?
–What were you doing?
I wanted to do everything. He was an unstoppable four-year-old. He wanted to answer the phone, do the shopping… He had too much energy, so they signed me up for judo so that I would come home more relaxed.
–And why judo?
–They heard that UNESCO considered it a good sport and recommended it for children. So they took me to the Lee gym, in Móstoles, and that entered my body.
(And so much so that it hit him: for a month now, Fran Garrigós has been the 60-kilo world champion, and he is also a double European champion, in 2021 and 2022, and has attended the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games, and will be in Paris 2024).
Fran Garrigós remembers that, even as a child, ten years old, he already dreamed of Olympic gold.
–I wanted to be like Bolt or like Phelps. How it marked me to see them in Beijing 2008!
-But judo does not give…
I always understood that I would never become a millionaire. But there is nothing more important than doing what you like, right?
In 2021, I almost quit. How bad the Tokyo Games had been for me, they had filled me with doubts ”
Fran Garrigós also remembers that it was then, when he was ten years old, when he understood that he had to move forward.
–Lee Gym was getting too small for me.
So he sat next to his father, Francisco, and they looked for alternatives.
The alternative was to go to Brunete, twenty minutes by car from Móstoles, to enroll in the Quino Ruiz academy.
And there it continues, in the Dojo Quino: Brunete and Valencia are today the epicenter of the emerging judoka school in our country.
–As a judoka, Quino Ruiz had been everything. As a judoka, and as a teacher. He has also put money on his behalf to help me move forward.
– But the federations, don’t they contribute anything?
Are you referring to the scholarships? The ADO scholarships come after the World Cups and the Games. And on the international circuit, there are cash prizes. But before you get there you have to lose…
There has to be a family effort. The flights, the hotels… Today I have set up a family fiber optic company with my father, Actividad 360. And my mother (Manuela) cleans. But before having this company, my father had been unemployed and in the midst of a financial crisis. Seeing him like this had taught me to fight. And in the midst of all that, Quino Ruiz had also paid for some competitions out of his own pockets. Quino believes in my dreams so much that he made me capable of achieving them.
Ana Pérez Box agrees.
Ana Pérez Box is also an Olympic judoka, and a World Cup medalist, and has been an Olympian in Tokyo 2020, and is the partner of Fran Garrigós.
–Now I have an apartment in Móstoles for a year, and I have managed to live from judo. But in 2021 he had had a crisis. I almost quit.
–How badly the Tokyo Games had turned out for me! I had arrived as one of the favourites, with my European gold that year, and then they threw me out in the first round. And then I had to stop.
–I continued training, but I took some time away from competitions. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue. I waited until January 2022. The Lisbon Grand Prix was taking place. I gave myself an ultimatum: I went to dispute it to see if I still had the illusion. It was a test, and it went well: I finished seventh, but I felt that I still wanted to win. That experience brought me back to life as a judoka.