Saúl Craviotto is, nothing more and nothing less, the Spanish athlete with the best Olympic record. On August 7, in the Sea Forest channel, in Tokyo, the silver in K4 500 with Carlos Arévalo, Marcus Cooper and Rodrigo Germade. A reward after a bitter cycle, in which in April 2020 he returned to patrol around Gijón (It is the National Police) during confinement due to the coronavirus.

Then, the Catalan settled in Asturias, already had four Olympic medals. He was champion in Beijing 2008 in K2 500 (with Carlos ‘Perucho’ Pérez Rial), silver in London 2012 in K1 200, gold in Rio 2016 in K2 200 (with Cristian Toro) and bronze in K1 200 in the same event. A brutal record that made him tie with fellow canoeist David Cal in number of medals (The Galician added one gold and three silver).

-Four months later, does silver taste even better than in Tokyo? Because they were only 226 thousandths of the gold of Germany, they had it very close.

-It tastes similar to me. I didn’t have a bad taste in my mouth. Yes it is true that being second for so little generates a bit of anger at the moment, but no. We did the perfect race and I ended up very happy with what I had achieved.

-He said there that he needed to disconnect. It has done?

-If the truth! I was looking to miss the training routine and I have succeeded. I have done my homework well and I am eager and enthusiastic. I have already started training, although I am not standing still in terms of commitments. Within the chaos, I try to have a routine already.

-On November 3, he turned 37, but it has not cost him much, then, to pick up the shovel again …

-No way! I was looking forward to seeing myself again with spark and enthusiasm.

-What do you think when we describe you as a ‘legend’?

– (Snorts) I assume it naturally, I do not consider myself a legend, but an ordinary canoeist who has had good results. But I appreciate the love, of course.

-Which athletes do you have in that category of ‘legend’?

-David Cal is a great legend and a reference, someone I have admired throughout my career. Pau Gasol, for what he is and transmits off the pitch. And Rafa Nadal, Fernando Alonso … Those that all Spaniards admire.

-And what did David Cal tell you when they met in Spain?

-I was going to an event in Granada and passing through Murcia I hit him a bit on the way. He was working and we agreed to eat. We get along very well, we are very good friends and there is not even a healthy bite because of the colors of the medals. It is very cool to have him as a reference.

-He says that Cal shook their fear of winning …

-When I started going to the World or European Championships when I was 17 or 18 years old, who was fifth or sixth was outrageous. We saw Merchán, Jovino, people who finished fifth in some Games and they seemed like a fool to us. David arrived and the medals fell like hotcakes. We realized that the complexes had to be removed, that the Germans or the Hungarians could be beaten. Since he opened the melon, we have not stopped.

-In Tokyo, Teresa Portela finally won a silver medal. With 39 years. He was very happy for her. What do you think of the trajectory of your partner, the message of commitment that she transmits?

-Teresa is not aware of what she has transmitted to the rest of the canoeists and to society. Whoever follows gets it. In his case, in his sixth Games. It is the example of perseverance, perseverance, enthusiasm, good work. Always with a smile on his face, he never threw in the towel. Because I love her so much, she made me very happy.

-What more immediate sports plans do you have?

-I don’t know what competitions are in sight … there are always World Cups and Europeans. But step by step. A new cycle begins and everything has to be relocated. Now the funnel opens. There are young people with brutal potential and you have to put all the meat on the grill, stir the cocktail and see what comes out. If I deserve to be on a ship, I will try to leave the tall canopy. It’s time to fight and fight, because this is sport.

-Have you sat down slowly with your coach, Miguel García, to talk about the approach to Paris 2024? There will only be K1 1,000, K2 500 and K4 500. There will be shots to be there.

-Each edition they remove more seats while the level increases in Spain. Bad mix. Everybody wants to be in a Games and it gets complicated. I haven’t talked to him about how we’re going to orient everything.

-But will you be in Paris 2024 for sure?

-I’ll try! I’m going to do what I can, but they come tightening.

-What does Miguel García mean for you? They have been together since their first medal in a Junior World Cup (Brazil 2001).

-I can’t conceive of my sports career or my life without him. He is someone very special. I’ve been with him since I was 16 on a day-to-day basis. I leave the house at eight in the morning and arrive at seven in the afternoon and I spend that time with him. It is like a brother. We are one. My medals are yours.

– Would it be convenient for the Federation to clarify the classification criteria much earlier and to work more calmly?

-Yes. The sooner the rules are defined, the better. So that weird things don’t happen. If everyone knows what the cards are and when the game is going to be, if you like the game you accept it and if you don’t get up and leave. But you can’t change the rules mid-game.

-Would you like to repeat the K4 500 in Tokyo?

-It’s not going to like it. This is not a club of friends. I get along very well with Arevalo, Cooper and Germade. But also with Juan Oriyés, Roi Rodríguez or Albert Martí. But this is a matter of meritocracy. Those who make the K4 faster will be the ones in Paris. And if I don’t go in, then I’ll take it.

-Every time there are more athletes who come out to tell the mental health problems that derive from high competition sports. Not appreciated enough how tough it is? You have been away from home since you were 15 years old.

-There is more talk since the case of Simone Biles. It is something to take care of. The first thing is health. You don’t have to be ashamed to open up or work with psychologists. We have all been through difficult times.

-What did you learn from your adventure in MasterChef? Will we see him in something similar?

-To fry an egg! In short, to cook. I also knew a different world from mine and it was very good for me to change of scene. I have been rowing in major competitions since I was 15 years old and stopping a year, which was also post-Olympic (2017) was positive. On top of that I won and that opened up a wide range of possibilities for me and has made canoeing more known. One thing has helped me another. It was a unique experience.

-Publish a book on gastronomy shortly. And I think he has a stake in a restaurant in London. Did the stoves leave you marked?

-Yes Yes. A passion for that world has awakened me. It is a book about traditional recipes, spoon dishes, fabadas, blunt … How I like it!

-How do you see yourself in a few years? Coming back to the front line at the police when I quit?

-I do not know. Now I think in the short and medium term. I know that after Paris I will not have a tour, so out of the corner of my eye I must look to the future. You have to know how to withdraw, know that everything has a beginning and an end. We’ll see. My passion is sports and I would like to continue linked.

-Italy, where many athletes belong to the army or the police, has been one of the winning countries in Tokyo. Should that line be exploited further here?

-It’s the line. The ideal. The greatest concern of the athlete is the precipice of retirement, when you have been representing your country your whole life and you are no longer worth it, you get injured or you are old. It is the harsh reality. The four Germans who beat us in Tokyo are military. They have places to represent the country, as in Italy or France. In Slovakia they are all policemen, in Russia military … It would be wonderful if that step were taken in Spain, to offer that job and economic opportunity.


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