How does the Mexican team get prepared for the Olympics ?
We always plan one year before the preparation the team is going to have for the Olympics. We had an evaluation, the trials, to see what Mexican athletes are going to be the ones who will represent Mexico in Rio. Then, we went to Korea for a 2 weeks training camp at the end of March. Afterwards, we fought in G1 and G2 events looking for good fights, like the German Open. And, of course, we made a lot of trainings in the Mexican Olympic Center.
Taekwondo is very big in Mexico. How many people do practice it ?
Around 2 millions, I think. We don’t know the exact number. It’s growing all the time. What I can say is that our National championships are very hard because there are many good fighters.
It’s also very important to notice that, in Mexico, Taekwondo is the best sport in the country concerning results. It has always been giving many medals for Mexico, and that would not be possible without the support of the Sports Union of Mexico and the Mexican federation as well, which supports us a lot.
Who is going to the Olympics ?
We qualified 4 athletes. In 58 kg, it will be Carlos Navarro (20 years old, 1st in the 2016 Panamericans), and, in -68 kg, Saul Gutierrez (23 years old). For women, Itzel Manjarrez (26 years old, 2nd in the 2016 Panamericans) will represent Mexico in -49 kg and, in +67 kg, it will be Maria Espinoza (28 years old), the 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 bronze medallist. She is also the 2007 World and the 2016 Panamerican champion.
“We would like 4 medals”
What would be the goal in Rio ? How many medals do you expect ?
We would like 4 medals. But God only knows what color they would be. If he decides gold, it would be ok. But, anyway, we will do a great representation of our country. All countries are really tough and very well prepared but, because of the constant changes in the chest guard, we don’t know.
As you already chose your athletes, what is the purpose of fighting in G1 and G2 events ?
G1 and G2 events have always great athletes competing because, nowadays, countries have very strong athletes. We want to fight against them and to make some points for the ranking.
We went to Hamburg, for the German Open (April 23rd-24th). Afterwards, we went back to Mexico to prepare the G4, the Panamerican tournament and the G2 in Mexico, a good event as well.
Those two events are the last ones before the Games. We then do a camp in Cancun for about 2 weeks. After that, we go to Rio.
How is a day organized during the National team camps ?
It depends. What we usually do is to train 2 times a day. The 1st session is devoted to physical work and the second one to the technical/tactical approach. We also watch videos of our opponents.