With the Nationals this week (Friday to Sunday), a few days after the successful meeting in Madrid, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and 365 days from the Olympic Games in Paris, This Wednesday, at the Meeting Place de la Castellana Auditorium (Madrid), the president of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA), Raúl Chapado, and the athletes Mario García Romo and Raquel González shaped an informative breakfast organized by Europe Press. “Fascinating Spanish Championships are coming up, which are, in turn, the last chance to be in the World Cups (from August 19 to 27, in Budapest). All this, in the middle of the qualifying process for the Games”, remarked Chapado to start a conversation in which none of the hot topics of international athletics were shunnedranging from national health to the tricky situations of the march and trans athletes.
“The best way to predict the future is by creating it”, reflected the president of the RFEA when asked about the immediate, medium and long-term challenges. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but there are more Spanish athletes who can be medalists. More than before Tokyo, Rio or London. There are many who are there and others who will arrive in the coming months ”, he answered about the possibilities of success in the upcoming international commitments. “The line between success and frustration is very fine, but I am clear that the team is going to be very competitive. Between zero and four”, he was encouraged, finally, giving a number of possible medals in Budapest. On August 3, the shortlist will be revealed.
Just before, García Romo, European bronze in 1,500, had shown himself to be more “brave”, as Chapado himself said. “I would say that we will get at least two golds, since we are both here (by Raquel Gonzalez). But surely there are several medals and several finalists. Optimism is breathed. If I don’t win, I hope one of my teammates does”, said the one who was fourth in the Eugene World Cups, with Mohamed Katir or Adel Mechaal as great assets next to him. “I can get to see a completely Spanish podium. This year, all the previous World Cups can be surpassed”, he developed, full of enthusiasm. Raquel picked up the glove: “I work with gold in mind, that is my main objective. It depends on many factors, but I leave Spain thinking about gold”, added the walker, runner-up in Europe (35 km) and fifth in the past World Cups.
“They know me as the heavy of the march”
The current situation of the march, precisely, took over a good part of the breakfast. Less than a year before Paris 2024, the discipline underwent a major change: the 35 kilometer test became a mixed relay (2×2) in which the same distance will be completed as in a marathon, 42,195 km. The decision, which caught even the athletes by surprise and caused a stir, was made due to the demands of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “World Athletics has not changed its mind, it has adapted”, Raúl Chapado clarified. The president of the RFEA also denied that the possibility of the march disappearing from the Olympic program is on the table, something that would have very negative repercussions at the national level, with great tradition and success.
“In the four years that I have been a member of World Athletics, that possibility has never been raised. My position would be against. What interest would we have in him leaving the Olympic program? It is the sector where we invest the most as RFEA, because they have many possibilities. If it disappears, Spanish athletics would be amputating a leg and an arm ”, he developed, forcefully, Chapado, who denied a possible deal from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe to eliminate the march in Los Angeles 2028. “Saying that is lying. These things are very easy to say, but proof must be provided. There is no person with more integrity than Sebastian Coe, you cannot make threats or lie like that, ”he pointed out.
Chapado, who will run for one of the four vice-presidencies of World Athletics (it will be announced on August 17), was criticized, at the time, for not going out to defend the march in the face of changes and rumors. This Wednesday, he offered his version, corroborated by Raquel González, sitting to his left. “There is no proposal, it is all rumors. I have been talking with the IOC for a long time, with other federations that would also affect them. They know me as the heavy of the march, I am constantly fighting for discipline. There is an internal debate between the entities and the committees, but it is permanent. But if there is a proposal (out of the Olympic program)the RFEA would be against it”, he stressed, noting that this would affect the financing of all national athletics.
The trans controversy: “Inclusion must be achieved without injustice”
This Tuesday, a Spanish athlete, Melani Bergés, was left out of the Paralympic Games after being surpassed by the trans athlete Valentina Petrillo. Her case also broke through at breakfast. “No one can be discriminated against in participation. Another question is how we integrate transgender athletes to have a fair competition. We have been categorizing all our lives, by age, by kilos, etc. We are faced with a new reality and we were not prepared to set regulations. We must achieve inclusion without falling into injustice. We cannot regulate without legal and technical solvency or put at risk a fair competition for women”, Raúl Chapado pronounced, with the World Athletics regulations present. Since March, the organization does not allow that transgender athletes compete in the female category in international events
Raquel González and Mario García also contributed their points of view. “It is a complex issue. I think we all have the right to do athletics, but we are competing in totally different conditions.”, pointed out the first. “In U.S.A (where he lives since he went to study), This debate has been going on for years. You have to listen to the experts and respect the laws. I hope everyone is respected and I think there will be a solution soon”, added the second. The three came out in defense of Ana Peleteiro, who felt “harassed” a month ago, after being opposed to the entry of trans athletes in the female categories. “We cannot allow an elite athlete, for freely expressing her opinion, to be harassed through social networks,” Chapado completed, revealing his conversation with the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), Alejandro Blancoto publish the statement that was released at the time of the controversy.