What is Podium?
More than a century and a half ago, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of our modern Olympic Games, said that “the most important thing in sport is not winning, but participating, because the essential thing in life is not success, but striving to achieve it . ”
From this perspective, the Telefónica Podium scholarships, with the illusion of training young people to participate in the most important sporting event held worldwide. The Podium Scholarships are a program to support these promises of the Spanish Olympic sport, developed by Telefónica in collaboration with the COE.
World elite athletes will come out of this program, you see it every day and that teaches you a lot.
Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete
Since 2014 the program has been working to give visibility and support to 88 athletes from 31 different disciplines, including winter and summer sports.
José María Álvarez-Pallete, the promoter of Telefónica’s new digital era, is clear that “this program is going to leave world elite athletes, that you see it every day and that teaches you a lot”.
To understand what are podium scholarships We spoke with Marcus Cooper, who started out as a Podium Scholar and is now an Olympic Champion. But not only that, he is an ambassador for the program. In this time, it has become a benchmark for scholarship recipients, making the program shine with its own light. Marcus participated in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, obtaining a gold medal in the K1 1000m event.
As an elite athlete, what are the values that have been constant in your life?
I am aware that the effort is worth it. I am able to sacrifice intensely and to be perfect in everything that surrounds the competition, to make the most of myself and to do it with passion. Getting the passion out of what I do is my value. And I am aware that I have to learn from defeats and victories.
And do you learn more from one or the other?
You learn from defeats and triumphs alike. It is often said that more than mistakes … but it is a mistake to think that. You have to learn the most from the victories because there may be deficiencies in the competition. In victory you don’t stop trying to learn.
You are an Olympic medalist and now you are going to Tokyo, the enthusiasm with which an athlete lives this event is maximum, right?
Undoubtedly. Ambition is maximum and I will give the best of myself, of us, who are a K4. And we know what we are capable of within the humility of knowing that there are defeats.
What would you advise young people who want to dedicate themselves to sports in a professional way? Worth?
When you are in an autonomous or national team, you can consider yourself a professional and the first thing is to be clear about the objectives and that they are more ambitious than they think is possible. Goals close to impossible. And after these objectives, that they make every effort possible, 24 hours a day, in everything that surrounds them.
How was your experience as a grantee in the Telefónica Podium project?
I am honored to be an ambassador. And I will always feel attached to this program because it is amazing. It arose between Telefónica and the COE and I think it is an example at the national and international level. I know other countries and I have not seen a similar program. It helps a lot to Spanish sports because when you are someone very old you can access help. Before there was a group of athletes who had ambitions and high level but who were just financial and moral support. Podium is not only financial aid, it is mental aid. In the end we are a family that we support each other and we feel very supported. Telefónica is very close and the COE is also very close, and that allows us to improve more quickly. My medal is thanks to this agreement.
Do you see yourself preparing for the next Olympics?
Yes, I see myself preparing the following. I see myself training and fighting.
For Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, this program has exceeded expectations and “it is not that we are happy, it is that there are no words to define what this program has done for the sport of the present and the future of Spain. such a program existed ”.
How to access a Podium scholarship?
To be a Podium athlete, three conditions are necessary. First, be under 23 years of age, then be outside the ADO program and, finally, compete in one of the Olympic disciplines chosen in the scholarships, which are fundamentally individual. The Federations together with the Spanish Olympic Committee are the ones who decide the program’s scholarship recipients.
Marcus Cooper himself explains it: