When she warned at home that she was going to ask for a leave of absence, the mother pulled her hair. Damien Quintero is a karate. He is 34 years old, 20 European and 4 world medals. He is also an aeronautical engineer and has, in addition to the degree, two master's degrees. One in aeronautical composites and another in executive sport business administration. He started a third, of industrial organization engineering, which has not come to an end. "I do not consider myself a coconut, but when I want something I try hard to get it. Sport gives you the sense of sacrifice, the ability to work hard and give it a twist again, "he says sitting in the center of the CAR mat following a three-hour training beating.
While studying I managed to combine the books with the trainings. Not like that when he started working. In the summer of 2015 he requested a leave of absence from what was his only source of income. At that time karate was not Olympic. It will be for the first time in Tokyo 2020. Winning a world medal brought to your account 6,000 euros; one European, 3,000. Now, 12,000 plus the ADO scholarship and 4,800, respectively. He worked at ATOS, defective parts came from Airbus and he had to recalculate to see if they could be fixed or they had to be returned.
"It was impossible to reconcile it with this. I went to the office at 7 and left at 15. I was running to the Blume, I ate only because the dining room closes at 3: they kept me a little tray there and at 4.30 I was on the tatami. At that time we did not have a coach in the CAR and trained alone. It had just burst. Even so I got the results, but I stayed three years, "explains Quintero who was born in Buenos Aires but moved with the family to Spain when he was 5 years old. The idea – the papers were ready– He was moving to Australia, but his parents finally decided to move to Malaga.
"When I asked for leave, the bells rang that the karate was going to enter the Games, but it was not confirmed, I wanted to prepare the World Cup well in 2016. My mother was pulling her hair: 'kid, where are you going, without a scholarship and You have a good salary, a good position, you were well on your way, growing up in the company … ", recalls the karate player. "At the end he told me: come on, go to the pool, one year we can take you, two do not. It happened that karate entered the Games, I was runner-up in the world and European champion. All rolled wine, "he adds.
Quintero had his reward. Right now it's the second of ranking world and dreams of Tokyo and an Olympic medal, something he has not been able to do in the last 15 years. How does it take to win so many metals without being able to aspire to one in the Games? "It makes you hard and you feel healthy envy …", he answers. He trains six hours a day. In kata there are no punches, nor opponents. They are a series of established movements where strength, speed, power and balance are evaluated. He says that the part of the body that hurts most after a day on the tatami is the neck and trapezoids. "Of the pulls that we give".
The training session consists of endless series of movements. Concentrating with zumba music and reggaeton that comes from adjoining rooms seems mission impossible. "I want you to get in your head that from here to the World Cup you are going to die, are we?", Warns coach Jesús del Moral as he draws the plan for the next two weeks on the board.
The World Cup that begins this Tuesday with the eliminatory ones (the final ones will be disputed on Saturday) is the competition that more punctuates for the ranking Olympic and for which Quintero says to have been preparing two years. He has been 15 in the elite since he started in Torremolinos, in doyo [así se llaman los gimnasios de kárate] that was in front of the school. "They pointed me to five years old but it was so small that the teacher, Lorenzo Marín, told my parents to go the following year". The next year there he was. Marín took the group of children camping through the Alpujarra or Marbella on weekends. With 7 years Damián was already competing, with 13 he was champion of Spain for the first time in children's category and with 16, European champion in cadets.
Ensures that psychology is one of the fundamental aspects in this sport and especially in the modality of kata. "We do not depend on an opponent, you compete against yourself, you have to be aware of it and be focused on your work. You can neither accelerate to do it at 200% nor lower pulsations to do it at 80%. Psychology helps you get away from the outside and focus on your kata. With Pablo [Del Río, el psicólogo del CAR] I work many techniques, it helps me a lot because I have always considered myself a mentally strong person, but since the karate is Olympic, I had to learn to deal with something that did not exist before, such as media attention and envy, "he says.