Ray Zapata: “After the medal I can sleep peacefully”

At just nine years old, Ray Zapata (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) landed in Lanzarote with his mother, who was looking for a better future for the family. Now, almost two decades later, Zapata is an Olympic medalist at 28 … and he doesn’t want to stop hereí. The gymnast had already been a World Bronze (2015), gold at the European Games (2018), but his great moment of glory came this summer, at the Tokyo Games, with a silver that was just a breath away from being gold: he did the same score as the winner, the Israeli Artem Dolgopyat (14,993 points), but the Spanish program had a tenth less difficulty than that of his rival. A moment that at that moment tasted somewhat sour, but did not last long.

“An Olympic medal! It is true that it makes you angry at that moment, but then you think about what you have achieved … and you enjoy it to the fullest “says Zapata. And that the road to Tokyo was not easy: “In my quarantine I had to operate on my ankle, and from that moment everything went for the better,” he admits to AS. “It is true that I came to the Games very pecked, especially physically, although something also in mind. The Achilles tendon was about to break, so after the Games I stopped. We don’t care, because we want to be, be and always achieve, and we put everything to the limit. I’m very happy, ”he says with a smile.

The medal was the reward for many years of work, effort and sacrifice. “Now, after the medal, I can sleep peacefully. Before, the head would not stop spinning. I thought about getting this, doing that … whatever it took to do something great.. After Tokyo, everything changed. I sleep great, with my little girl (Olympia, born this year), my wife, my dogs … ”. A daughter who has Ana Peleteiro as her godmother. “Our relationship has been incredible for many years. We both fulfilled our dream (she was bronze in triple jump) at the same Games … and on the same day (August 1) ”.

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Now, after doing softer workouts in order to recover from his physical problems, Zapata faces 2022, with ambition and wanting more. Every day he spends six hours in the CAR in Madrid with the sole intention of improving. “I want to make new elements for my exercise. Two minimum. The truth is, I don’t know how to train without goals, I want more, and in Paris 2024 to at least equal what was achieved in Tokyo “. An Olympic cycle that will be shorter than usual. Pandemic stuff. A 2021 ends that also changed Ray’s day to day. “People know me in places that I thought would be impossible. Even with a mask! Hopefully I can leave a great legacy. Many compare me to Gervasio Deferr, but he is the king. In the future I would like to impart everything I know to the little ones. ”Looking to the future … and to the present.

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