My goal is to beat the youth world record of the 500 meters this year.
BARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Not everyone can be an Olympian in Latin America.
At 18-years-old, I am a 2019 Pan-American junior track cycling champion. My next goal is to be on the podium of a junior world championship.
I have overcome injuries, a pandemic, and financial challenges to chase my dream.
After being the fastest cyclist in the 2019 Junior Pan American Championship, I had great expectations. I graduated from high school in 2020 and hoped to go to my first World Cup.
Then, the pandemic put my dreams on hold.
With no competitions, and with training limitations due to quarantine, I gained weight and my body began to change.
[As competitions re-opened], I experienced my first serious injury. During a race, I was staring at my front wheel, watching who was in the front.
Suddenly, my bicycle stopped, and I saw everything upside down, like in a movie. When I woke up, I felt the total weight of my body on my right shoulder.
I fractured my right clavicle.
As the minutes passed, the pain grew. Tears were falling from my eyes. After several hours and multiple hospitals, doctors said they could operate, but not for 21 days. The pain was unbearable.
Thanks to the insistence of my dad’s friend, we obtained an appointment two days later and I had surgery.
Just when I was ready to go back to the track, my dad began experiencing tremendous pain in his arm and on the left side of his chest. When he arrived at the emergency clinic, they admitted him for heart disease.
My dad works as a driver and earns his income through the amount of work he completes. My mom sells beauty products. After being hospitalized he had to cut back on his work schedule.
My brother [from whom I inherited my love of track cycling] had gone on to be a foreign trade professional, and he helped to replace our primary source of income. With no insurance, my family’s savings was expended, covering my accident and injuries.
We received some government support, but my sport requires a lot of support from my family. We have to buy implements, wheels, tools, helmets, shoes, glasses, ties, belts, tubes, food to maintain my ideal weight of 70 kilos (154 pounds), physical therapy, and a psychologist – all to remain competitive.
I do not have a sponsor.
Once my health and financial problems were solved, I wanted to stay at home to take care of my family’s needs. My brother helped me.
Then, with no warning, a few days before the new year, he tested positive for Covid, forcing us to quarantine. Once again, I was locked up and unable to train.
My coach Ricardo Moreno ensured I went back to training with weights so I could return to the ring.
After our negative streak, everything began to improve. I hadn’t competed in 23 months, then I went to my first Elite Pan American Championship in Peru. I won a bronze medal in the 500 meters.
Being on an Elite podium as a youth was a huge achievement. I beat the Guatemalan Johan Rodríguez, a cyclist who trains at the High-Performance Center of the International Cycling Union in Switzerland.
Although I was able to beat an opponent with more experience, I knew I had to keep learning and training hard.
Months later, my teammates and I managed to win seven finals in the Junior National Championship. A number of Colombians – including me – have shown to be the best in speed tests.
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