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A normal and full blooded Leon girl. That’s how Carolina Rodríguez (León, 1986) defines herself. Recently proclaimed, at 28 years old, champion of Spain of rhythmic gymnastics for the tenth time, But, above all –and this is added by us–, a young woman who believes in what she does, confidence and always willing to lend a hand. Thank you, Carolina.
The Youth Department of the Council of León [es] (Spain), Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, have had the chance to talk for a few minutes with her. Thus we could know −and now we share it with all the reader of the European Youth Portal− the keys that have led her to success.
Carolina always wanted to be a gymnast. She was only three years old when she was attracted to rhythmic gymnastics. She wanted to be like the girls she watches on TV and she tried to imitate them in her own living room.
At this time, her sister Loli was a basketball team’s cheerleader and encouraged her to meet her coach, Ruth Fernández, also the Club Ritmo coach. Carolina showed Ruth all she was able to do and she invited her to join the gym.
Thus, on January 28th, 1994, at seven years old, Carolina Rodríguez began her career in rhythmic gymnastics. Only three months later she started to compete and, in 1996, she was proclaimed champion of Spain for the first time.
This is one of her best memories. When she left the mat, she saw her coach crying, and she asked her: “How bad did I do it?” At ten years old, she didn’t understand the tears of emotion, and she didn’t see herself as champion of Spain.
It was the year of the Atlanta Olympics, and the Spanish team was gold in rhythmic gymnastics. And, then, Carolina was sure: “I want to be an Olympian”.
It’s unusual for a gymnast to continue actively at 28 years old. But Carolina Rodríguez not only continues in the elite: she is still the best of Spain. She has been proclaimed winner in the last state championship. This is the tenth time that she wins, keeping in mind all categories, a fact that makes her the Spanish gymnast who has won more championships.
Each time she competes, she tries to enjoy it to the max. She’s sure that it will do well, and she remembers all the people who work with her. It’s very exciting, she said, to share that happiness.
She doesn’t train as many hours as when she was younger. Still, her average is four or five hours a day –which is not much, she insists, because the elite gymnasts can practice up to eight–. At her age, she says, is about making quality training, with intelligence, and having a good fitness to support the load and prevent injuries.
This past year has been tough for Carolina. She has prepared competitive examinations to police, teaches gymnastics at two schools and study Psychology.
More than twenty years have passed since Carolina Rodríguez stepped on a mat for the first time; a lifetime devoted to rhythmic gymnastics, which has led her to travel around the world… doing what she likes most.
From her early training, in an old church in the leonese district of Puente Castro, until now, the key of her success lies in an extraordinary discipline, avoiding excesses and spending many, many hours –impossible to quantify– training.
She stands out from her expressiveness; perhaps because her parents are both deaf and, communicating by sign language, she is used to gesticulate. At the end, a gymnast is a bit actress and Carolina gets to the public.
The more time she spends, the more she values the past, and it’s more exciting for her, for example, to see old photographs. It’s fascinating –she tells us– to remember the joys she has shared, most times with the same people. Being able to compete in the London Olympics, going with her lifelong coach is the greatest thing. And living with ten thousand athletes is the same place is an unique experience, she says.
Carolina is the mirror in which many girls that begins to take their first steps in the rhythmic gymnastics look at. She wants to give them advice: choose your path and have fun. And she doesn’t forget their parents; she requests them not to frustrate the way chosen by their children. In sport –she regrets– parents often want more than their own children.
Carolina Rodríguez, who –as she confesses– has thought about her retirement more than once, intends to continue on the mats while she enjoys it, and until her body says: “until here”.
Currently, thanks to the support of Drasanvi, her goal is to compete in the Olympics Games in Río de Janeiro. She will be 30 years old.
And, after Río, maybe she will do something else…
Carolina Rodríguez, like any other young, is concerned about her future. Until now she could maintain herself thanks to some grants, such as the leonese county council, or the ADO one.
Above all, sport
Carolina Rodríguez doesn’t want to finish our meeting without encouraging everybody to do sport. It is good for your body and your mind; in short, to feel good about yourself.
In addition, sport gives values that are not available otherwise; give you long time friendships and you feel the support of the people: they make you, for some time, a ‘star’.
And who knows… Maybe someone will become an elite athlete.
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, León