Adriana Cerezo: building the best in history

“Everything has happened to us,” says Adriana Cerezo at 19 years old. “She is not a typical teenager, she is not a normal girl,” confirms her coach, Jesús Ramal, sitting to her right. “I turned 18 in Saudi Arabia, going to the supermarket in the trunk of a car driven by a 14-year-old boy. We have a lot of those”, develops the Olympic runner-up, showing that she was not exaggerating. They have been working together since 2015, at the Hankuk gym, located in San Sebastián de los Reyes. When Adriana, at the age of 11, came into the hands of Jesús, she only wanted to train. Paradoxically, her extreme competitiveness generated a certain rejection of the competition. She wanted to be the best, but she was afraid of losing. After a month of training, she was looking forward to competing. Starting Monday, she will do it in the Baku World Cups (Azerbaijan), a key date for the Olympic qualification.

Adriana and Jesús seem to be made for each other. While talking to AS, they are constantly being completed. “Although sometimes we scold each other,” says Ramal. “It’s his thing, in the end, to improve and continue to grow, there have to be moments like this,” adds his pupil. They are both very demanding. Together, they make up “a bomb that sometimes explodes”, but they always look for “the best for both of us”. For this reason, they approach training day by day, in a holistic way, taking into account both the personal and sporting context. It is one of the bases of Hankuk, its gym, which last year, in the total calculation of all its athletes, accumulated 176 medals. Adriana, in a key season, contributed ten (in absolute category).

Adriana Cerezo poses for AS.
Adriana Cerezo poses for AS.EDUARDO CANDEL REVIEJOACE DAILY

It was his first full year after silver in Tokyo. Now, she is “best competitor.” “She is more mature. She knows how to be attentive to more things. This quarter, especially, she has made a quite interesting qualitative and quantitative leap, ”says Jesús, who runs the gym together with the Finnish Suvi Mikkonen, the president, Olympic diploma in 2012. In 2023, Adriana has already won three gold (President’s Cup, US Open and Wuxi Open) and two silver (Belgian Open and Wuxi Grand Slam), although she does not keep track. “Everyone looks at the results, whoever says no is lying, but we are not looking to be champions of the United States Open. If we win in the process, the better, but we seek a balance between training and competitions to reach peaks of form in Games or World Cups”, explains Cerezo, displaying that maturity. “Before, she was a girl in an amusement park. Now, she is measuring herself in line with the sports project that she wants ”, metaphorizes her coach.

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The project has a name and surname: “Our idea is to make it the best in history”, Jesús does not hesitate to affirm. And Adriana does not hide. “It is very easy to say that you want to be the best in history. Then, you must be willing to be. I think I am, ”she completes her for the umpteenth time. At each tournament, they make new connections. They consider themselves two crazy, two obsessed looking in the same direction, with as much ambition as demand. “If I trust 99%, he trusts 150% that we are going to achieve it (to be the best ever). Our goal is that, but we also dream of the entire process that can take us there. Being the best in history is not being an Olympic champion, it is adding up: accumulating experiences together, living this process of growth… Someone who trusts you so much, even more than you, and who sees something like this possible, is someone you don’t want to separate from ”, summarizes the one from Madrid, that girl who did not want to compete and who, now, pursues sporting eternity.

The road to Paris

The next stop to that destination is Paris. So close so far. Counting the tournaments that Adriana has scheduled until then is overwhelming. What dates do you have set? “The calendar is completely red. It’s red!” she jokes. Following the organizational model established in competitions such as the NBA, taekwondo has significantly expanded the number of competitions. It doesn’t give up. “Here it is even more aggressive. In the NBA you have offseason; we do not. It is from January to January. We have to adapt to it. There are many points at stake”, explains Jesús, who plans to accompany Cerezo in more tournaments than in past seasons. From post-Olympic year to pre-Olympic year. What intensity.

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The next outstanding date is those World Cups, around the corner, which award 140 points for the Olympic ranking to the champions. It is one of the open ways that Adriana has to get to the Games, “because it is not done yet.” Currently, she is second in said classification, which grants places to the five best positioned athletes. In Wuxi (China), she reaped many merits to compete for the ticket that grants the Grand Slam classification, which will close her particular ranking, with another stop in China, in December. “If those routes are exhausted, because there may be injuries or bad moments, we have the pre-Olympic route”, completes Jesús, who addresses Adriana. “You have to get by now, right?” She lets go. She plays training.

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