In the cloister of the UCAM they are setting up the nativity scene. There are almost no people in the corridors of the San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia. It is sunny and very hot and the students prefer to meet outdoors, on the stairs of the entrance. "David, whatever you need, here we are, happy, you know," a security employee tells him. David Cal. The Galician canoeist, the Spanish athlete with the most Olympic medals (five), here is simply David. She is 36 years old, she has been working in the sports service of the UCAM for three years and she goes around the University like Pedro for her home. The students stop him to greet him and to tell him how many exams they have left; as Claudia Heredia, silver with the rhythm team at the Rio Games.
"When I retired I had a psychologically hard stage. You have been training all your life, suddenly you leave it and feel bad. I woke up every morning feeling guilty for not going to train. Little by little that feeling was mitigated and I was entering daily life. Right now the alarm goes off and what I think is: I have to go to work, not to train, "says Cal. He hung the pirogue in March 2015.
It's a Friday in late November and he's sitting in his UCAM office; He shares an office with his seven roommates. Her alarm clock sounds now at 8 o'clock, at 9 o'clock she is in the office until 19 o'clock. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she comes home at 12 o'clock at night because she has extra work; also on Saturday mornings. Train a C10 rowing team (a canoe with ten people). Most have not risen to one in life. He drives the van to San Javier, 40 kilometers from Murcia. From there you can see the buildings of the Manga del Mar Menor. The atmosphere is that of a camping Saturday. There are jokes and hesitations to those who arrive late or spliced from the night before. From the sand, Cal is correcting the gestures and the movements of elbows, shoulders and dorsal. "I like to teach them, I like to be with them and to train them," he says. The suit and tie have stayed at home and is now in flip flops and tights. The canoe climbs like helmsman to give rest to part of the group.
The department in which he works is in a building near the University. On the wall of his office he has hung the tribute box that the COE gave him on the day of his farewell. There are pictures of Cal with the face of a child at the Games in Athens, Beijing and London; with his parents, with Reina Sofía, with his coach and with Alejandro Blanco. It is the only ostentation of his past as an athlete. For the rest, he is immersed in his new life. In the restaurant near the University, where they usually eat with guests at talks and conferences, they greet him with the affection with which he treats a family member.
"My work varies a lot depending on the time of year. The most active is usually in April-May and the previous months because we have to organize all the Spanish university championships and assist others. Many people are mobilized After the championships it's time to organize the sports gala. In the office I do a bit of everything: answering emails, dealing with athletes on scholarships, organizing internal championships, talks and conferences. We are dividing the tasks, "he explains. The athletes awarded by the UCAM are about 450. What is most difficult is to work locked up after a life in the open air. "I wear it well, but there are times I need to get out of the four walls and disconnect," he says.
Sports hardly practical. "To get a canoe, I have to do 40 km on the way and 40 km on the way back and pull me back. I joined a rugby team to try, but it did not convince me. I go to the gym when I can, "he says. The gym is next to his office and Cal boasts the record of maximum power of airbike [una bicicleta de resistencia de aire con manillas y turbina de viento], known as the diabolical machine. He looks comfortable and perfectly integrated in the University.
Ensures that it continues to lead the same life lonely when I was competing: "I do not usually go out a lot and I do not usually do a lot of social life outside of here and around me". But his character has changed. "I'm quite different from the David Cal athlete. When I competed, I went to mine, I was tight, shy and introverted. The image that was that of someone very distant. Here I am much more open, a lot of people pass and you have to be. Surely this work would not do it with 20 years, I would not be able, "he concludes.