Half a year ago, Irantzu García, 26, made an unprecedented decision in Spanish sports: to park the medical studies in Vitoria and settle in Scotland to become the first professional person in curling in the country. Nobody before had had the audacity to live a practice that, at the end of last year, barely had 173 licenses. His great goal, qualify for the Beijing Games 2022 with his little brother Gontzal, an aspiration not far fetched considering his position in the ranking, the number 17 in the world.
"I would have regretted if I had not taken the step, when the Olympic cycle is over, I probably already have to settle down and take up the medicine again." The idea had been around for some time and his experience in the Paralympic Winter Games of PyeongChang (South Korea) last March, where he went as a volunteer of the health personnel, it was a revelation. "It was two very special weeks, I experienced the opening ceremony, the atmosphere, which is completely different from any competition, and I told myself I had to try." So, on the way back, he sat his parents and told them that he was leaving the MIR aside for four years and going to the country that invented the sport to train daily and try to get one of the nine places of the Chinese appointment. in the category of mixed couples. His brother will also move there when he finishes college, within, at least, a year and a half.
Curling is a family affair in the Garcias. In 2002 they gave a course in Vitoria and the whole clan was hooked on him: the parents, the two brothers and their cousin Sergio, Irantzu's previous partner on the ice rink. Two years ago, in fact, a team made up of the two sons, the father and a friend played the Kazan World Championship (Russia). They finished in 26th place.
She started in this discipline at 10 years old and with 11 she started competing. With 16 he won his first Championship of Spain and, except for a third place the following year, since then nobody coughs. He accumulates ten national titles, nine of them consecutive, which have given him the opportunity to attend other World Cups. In 2014 the bronze was hung with his cousin, his great international success next to the tournament in the Netherlands that he got at the beginning of 2018 making a duet with his already ex-coach.
Train daily, teach and give lectures
The cleverness of Irantzu García to explore an unknown path in Spanish sport has the support in this Olympic cycle of two scholarships, the Higher Council of Sports and the Basque Government, which help him to live from curling. At the end of August he settled in Stirling, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and since then everything revolves around the granite stone of 20 kilos: he trains daily – "in Vitoria he could only do it on weekends" -, he is a teacher, he competes and, in his free time, he even lectures.
"Whenever it occurred to me to go away, I thought of Scotland," he explains. "In Spain we do not have any tracks dedicated exclusively to curling and almost every month I traveled there to train, one of my best friends has gone to Stirling and we live together, so everything has been very good," he congratulates. The Olympic plan of the family also includes the removal of his brother Gontzal within a year and a half, just after the Erasmus in Switzerland, to exercise together the two years before the Games and rush the classification options. Meanwhile, they will adapt their agendas to coincide as long as possible. It is not uncommon for couples on the track to be also outside of it: parents-children, boyfriends, marriages or siblings, as is the case. Unknown, ignored and often object of joke in places with no tradition like Spain, it is a special sport that also offers much-needed lessons. "Here, gender equality is real, in terms of prizes and recognition," says Irantzu García.