Fernanda Aguirre’s way out of hell: “The Tokyo episode was horrible, I was left with sequels”
Juan Antonio Belmar
July 8, 2024

The Chilean taekwondist Fernanda Aguirre has qualified for the second time to the Olympic Games, Paris is now waiting for her in the Olympic Village. Because the drama marked her in Tokyo, the COVID 19 and her positive PCR immediately isolated her to a sanitary residence for two weeks, leaving her in a gloomy room of 9 square meters which witnessed the most critical and darkest moments of her sporting and personal life.

SportsIn talks to Fernanda Aguirre, who is in Spain doing her training camp before traveling to compete in the Olympic Games. In the quiet of the Madrid night, she answers our questions with an open heart.

Fernanda, remembering the past always helps to face the present and the future in a better way, how was the episode and the torment of the Tokyo Olympic Games?

The Tokyo episode was horrible, something I obviously didn’t expect to happen. I felt very sad, my heart was shattered at that moment, the truth is that I had a hard time getting over that, I was left with several sequels, as well as a great emptiness. I felt that I was not the same, but I kept on giving it like a resilient athlete, after a big defeat you have to stand up and turn the page.

What did you think about during those days of forced confinement for Covid19? Did it ever cross your mind to quit the sport?

Yes, I thought a lot about quitting, I felt that I was going through a mourning and had many negative thoughts about the sport, I said why me, I invested so much effort and sacrifice, preparing my whole life for a competition like the Olympic Games, I could not understand and digest in those days of confinement and being isolated from everyone.

Fernanda, how did you manage to get up in these 3 years and reinvent yourself to continue at the highest level?

It was not easy, but I turned the page. After Tokyo I came home, I was in reflection mode for a while and then I went back to training as usual. Now, the truth is that returning to a new Games was perhaps unthinkable, but I believed and at other times I didn’t believe, it was all a blur. At that same time my coach, José Zapata, was a fundamental pillar both in the daily training of taekwondo as in mentalizing me to seek a new classification to the Paris games.

You are an athlete who spares no effort to train and compete. What are your strengths as an athlete and the attributes they see in you, besides perseverance?

Among my strengths I have perseverance and resilience, I always want to go for more. Also learning from defeats, despite the disappointment of the moment, always leaves you a lesson. I am very passionate about what I do because technically and tactically I am fast and that is very valuable in this sport.

Fernanda, let’s get to know a little more about you. Tell us about your family, your closest environment.

The first thing is my parents. They have been a fundamental pillar in my sporting and personal life. Without them it would have been unlikely to get out of that dark and painful hole, for the same reason, my parents and siblings turned to me, from a hug or an I love you, to accompany you in silence. As for my siblings, each one develops professionally without leaving aside the sport, maybe not as I do, but they like it and, in the end, the sum of these passions leads you to believe with more conviction than ever that you are on the right path and of which you feel proud despite the complications that I have had to live.

With your heart in your hand, did you ever imagine that you would return to the Olympics and what it means to compete in Paris?

While I was in the solitude of Tokyo in that dreary and small room, many thoughts went through: from retirement, to giving myself time to look for more explanations to what had happened to me, but I understood that things happen for a reason and Covid19 was a stop in my sports career, because I lost an Olympic Games, but there were millions of people who lost their lives. I can’t stop telling you that it was difficult, but for a taekwondo athlete to fall and stand up again is an almost daily task.

How do you imagine these Paris Olympics when you step onto the tatami and see that you are in Paris?

I imagine these games as my own. The ones that give me a chance to compete, to fight every round as if it were the last, the most important, to leave nothing behind, to bring out everything in me. I also feel the support and the presence of my family in such a beautiful and captivating city. I have reason to celebrate and also to thank my coaches, the team that has worked to get to this moment, without them, nothing would be possible.

What do you aspire to as a taekwondo athlete? Where do you want to go in the near future?

I would love to win an Olympic medal in my sport, win a world championship, that for me is the ultimate and I work hard every day for that. And, in the future, to exercise my career as a coach, I see myself coaching and teaching my sport. I want to pass on my experiences to the younger ones, without forgetting that we are forming people and delivering values through sport.

What message do you have for your country, Chile, as it reaches the Paris 2024 Olympic Games?

I invite you to dream big, that dreams come true, that it costs a lot, that there are obstacles to overcome, do not be afraid to fall again and again, be patient in adversity, look with respect and humility to the opponent, independent that you will always go in search of victory, but to get to that moment that is brief for what you work all your life, I only invite you to enjoy it and treasure it as if it were always the last.

Fernanda Aguirre’s life is an ode to overcoming, this athlete with a fragile and soft voice, who has sporting and personal attributes to share with other young people that life cut short their dreams, goes to Paris to show the world that nothing is impossible, despite the blows that life gave her, because through those blows she forged her spirit of overcoming to go further and further. Tokyo is past, Paris is his next Olympic station.

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