"It took us 8 years to win the gold"

Esteban Grimalt, along with his cousin Marco Grimalt, traveled a hard learning path to obtain the gold medal in the beach volleyball of Lima 2019. One year after an unprecedented achievement for Chilean sports, Esteban remembers in detail the busy days that surrounded the Pan-American tournament

How were the weeks before Lima 2019?

That moment we lived in Lima was very intense. We came from competing on the world circuit, in the process of getting the points for Tokyo 2020. We came from playing three tournaments in consecutive weeks. The tournament prior to Lima was in Portugal and we reached the semifinals of that world date. Three days later we were already playing Lima 2019. We finished the week with the gold medal, happy, proud, but without being able to realize 100% of what we had achieved.

Why was it so difficult to assume?

Because we continue with the same intensity, we finished playing in Lima around 4 in the afternoon, then the awards ceremony, we were free at 5 PM and we had a flight at 6 PM, so we left from right there because we had brought our suitcases ... we barely made it to the flight and left for Austria. A day later we were competing again. It was super intense and it took us a while to analyze what we had achieved. Only the following week were we able to enjoy it.

How was the path to the medal, when did you have an appetite for the gold?

It was a long road, Lima was our third Pan American Games, in each one we made progress in results. Guadalajara 2011 did not go well for us, we were left out in the group phase, we lacked experience, managing anxiety and pressure. In Toronto 2015 another opportunity came, where we did have a good performance in the first phase winning the group. But we were going for a medal that got out of hand. We had a match point for bronze in the second set. We couldn't get that out of our heads and we ended up losing. We arrived in Lima with much more experience, prepared for any situation.

Where did that experience gained over the years come to help you?

Something similar to Toronto happened to us: we had three match points in favor in the second set for the gold, but we couldn't close it and the set escaped us. But unlike Toronto, that didn't weigh us down so much, we got it out of our heads quickly, we knew we were capable of winning it and that's how it was. It was a process of 8 years, of much effort and work, the most important thing to develop as an athlete and also as a person.

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