Since when do you and I know each other? ”Damián Quintero asks Sandra Sánchez thoughtfully. «Puff. Since we were very young. We were 8 or 9 years old, ”the Talaverana replied smilingly. «I remember going to the Spanish Championships and being Sandra there. What memories! Eh? ”Sandra Sánchez (38 years old, Talavera de la Reina) and Damián Quintero (35 years old, Buenos Aires) are the image of karate in Spain. Number one and two in the world respectively, both have achieved with their katas that Spain is installed at the top of the podium. «We have to propose that they put some mixed championship. Surely we would win all », Damien jokes. «Together we would be invincible», adds with a laugh Sandra.
What if you agreed in the same category? «I would try to change the number one for the two, but maybe it would stay the same », Damian replies, who can't stop laughing while staring at Sandra. He admires her. «It is perseverance and sacrifice in person. He has struggled a lot to get where he is. As she says, age is only a number ». And Sandra doesn't fall short either. «What surprised me most when I was able to work with him is his ability to sacrifice. If you have to do 100 repetitions Damian will do 100. No skips. It is the energy in the tatami ».
Friends and colleagues for years, although "the coupling has cost me a little more," Damián jokes, referring to Jesus del Moral, his coach, being Sandra's current partner, the two already count the days for the start of the most exciting challenge of their lives: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An unprecedented adventure in the world of karate, but that, unfortunately, in Paris 2024 will already be history. «That decision was very unfair. We did not have the staging in Tokyo so that karate could be valued in a Games. That decision was not made based on a reality. And of course, you have mixed feelings because you are living something unique, but you have that little thorn of … what if they are the last?», Says the recent champion of the Moscow Premier League. «It is complicated for the generations that come behind. We are aware that we are references for many boys and girls, who also dream of reaching this and it is complicated for them because the possibility of being Olympic disappears ”, adds Damián, who has also returned from the Russian capital with a medal under the arm: silver. «We are going to do it well just in case they are the last ones. For the record, ”says Talaverana with a mixture of resignation and humor.
They are favorites in all pools. Sandra and Damián will arrive in Tokyo with clear medal options. "Or so they say," notes world number two. None have tired of winning and, although they have less and less space at home to place the metals, both she and the Malaga prefer to land in the Asian country with their feet on the ground. «Being number one and two in the world brings everyone to talk about you. There are those who will criticize you and those who will worship you. In the end, managing that pressure is part of our work »And he adds:« It is gratifying to be placed in the bets, but you have to be on the ground and keep working because you are human and you can be wrong ». And in that same line continues Sandra. "Anyone can have an imbalance and you're out be the one or the hundred." And they, accustomed to the podium, are prepared for any situation. Even for the most bitter of all: defeat. «Damián works with a psychologist to prepare these situations. I use Jesus as a coach, psychologist, friend … I crush the poor man, ”says Sandra. «No one guarantees us anything. You have to have a cool head, ”he adds.
And what is the hardest? "It's a mix. The road is very beautiful, but very severe. There are days when you can't move your eyelashes, ”says Sandra. Children who dreamed of representing their country in a Games, will live another adventure together in Tokyo. "Who would not say them!" Concludes Damian.
. (tagsToTranslate) isabel pacheco