We spoke with Diego García, a 20-kilometer walk athlete, and María Xiao, a professional table tennis player. Both have traveled to Tokyo to represent Spain in the Olympic Games.
Diego García, champion of Spain of 20 km march, and María Xiao, 6 times champion of Spain in table tennis, this year will fulfill a dream representing Spain in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This will be possible because when they began to excel in their respective disciplines someone bet on them. That “someone” was the Podium Scholarship Program, a project of the Spanish Olympic Committee and Telefónica that since 2014 supports young sports talents in the country and encourages them day by day to facilitate the path to fulfill their dream: compete in the Olympics.
The Podium Scholarship program
Diego Garcia She is now in the ADO program, but she remembers Podium with special fondness. “Their support was the key so that the moment I finished studying and had to decide whether to go out to work or invest in my sports career, the balance was declined by sports,” recalls the athlete. The project offers athletes financial support so that they have no worries and can invest in everything they need to continue training and travel to competitions. “Podium Scholarships is a fundamental piece in the careers of athletes and it is appreciated that Telefónica assumes this responsibility and athletes continue to be a mirror of values for the entire country.” The Spanish athlete adds that “I will be eternally grateful because if I had not decided to continue developing my sports career, everything I am achieving would not have been possible.”
For its part, Maria Xiao, thanks to Podium Scholarships, you will be able to fulfill your dream and that of your parents, and travel to Tokyo. The table tennis player is one of 88 Podium scholarship recipients and assures that “I am very grateful for her support.” María Xiao has been counting on their support for five years and thanks to this, she has been able to go to more tournaments. “They help us in everything we need because if an athlete cannot train in good conditions or cannot go to tournaments, they cannot prosper.” In addition, the young woman who lives with table tennis people admits that the program has allowed her to “meet people from other sports and learn a little more about other disciplines”.
Fulfilling a dream: when I grow up I will be an Olympian
Diego García started in athletics testing all disciplines, but he opted for the 20-kilometer walk. He learned about athletics thanks to the Olympic Games when he was very young but his passion for this sport began at the age of 11. “I have wanted to be an Olympian since I was 8 years old,” he remembers. This year will be the first time that he goes to the Olympic Games, since he could not attend the previous appointment in Rio due to an injury. Simply going to the appointment alone is a dream for him, but once he is there, the athlete ensures that he will do everything possible to bring home a medal.
To prepare, the young man follows a very demanding routine. “Now in summer the training sessions are harder due to the temperatures and there are double sessions, in the morning and in the afternoon. Apart from that we have to take into account the prevention of injuries, that part is done in training and part is the work of the physiotherapist. It is also important to work on the mental part, especially in competitions as long as walking ”. And resting at least 8 hours a day and with a correct diet. “All these things condition our life, especially the closer we are to the competition,” he explains. But all this is worth it when you are going to fulfill a dream.
In addition, Diego is very proud to compete in a sport such as athletics where values such as respect and camaraderie stand out and “knowing that those values are above competition.”