Interview with Brigitte Yagüe (Part 2): “I’d like to earn a place for Rio”
Q. What do you think about the PSS and the video replay being used at official Taekwondo competitions?
A. I think these innovations have made our sport a much better and fair entertainment. Now when you hit someone in the protector you know that that point will be scored, no doubt about it, which enables you to focus on the fight. And the video replay is great too, if you hit your opponent with a kick and the referee doesn’t see it properly, you can always ask for the review and not only him but the whole crowd can see the replay. I think these innovations have made Taekwondo more spectacular and exciting. And you can see that on the audience, they really enjoyed every video replay with its slow motion images. I also enjoyed it during the three days I was not competing.
Q. At the end of the Olympics, you declared that your goal for 2013 was to have a baby, but you didn’t dismiss the possibility of competing in Rio in 2016. Do you still think the same way?
A. Yes I do, but it seems that having a baby is not as easy as I thought. It’s been 3 or 4 months since London finished now and I couldn’t imagine myself not being pregnant already (laughs). But yes, I still think this next year is going to be a different one. I’d love to have a baby, which has always been one of my goals apart from winning an Olympic medal. And I’d like to do it as soon as possible because I’d like to rejoin the competition afterwards and try to earn a place for Rio. But as it is taking longer than I expected, I am taking that time to recover my leg properly, because it’s hurt me almost during all this year. If I am not still pregnant once my leg is OK I will start training for the World Championship, which will be held in Mexico next July. I don’t want to be obsessed with Rio. I have it mind, but my main objective is to get back to my best shape and keep my level at top, which won’t be easy at my age. From now on I will try to take more care of myself and compete only in the big tournaments. I am not in a hurry anymore, maybe if I practice too much my body won’t last until Rio.
Q. In February 2013, the IOC will announce which sports remain in the official program for the 2020 Olympics. ¿Are you optimistic on Taekwondo remaining as a core sport?
A. Absolutely. Even more after the great success that Taekwondo had in London. All the spectators, who were a lot as all tickets were sold out during the 4 days, saw our sport is really spectacular and clean. I think it was perfect, everything worked as planned and there’s no way I can imagine Taekwondo being excluded for the 2020 Olympics.
Q. Taking a look at your career, which would you say it’s been your worst moment in Taekwondo?
A. I have no doubts: the morning of the 28th of December 2007. That was when I felt and broke my hand. The European Olympic qualifiers were only 3 weeks ahead and as I felt so much pain I realized from the very first moment that Beijing was over for me. It was one of the worse days of my life.
Q. And the best one?
A. The best one? I don’t want to focus only in the Olympics. It’s true that it’s been a really special medal and that I’ve been fighting for it for many years, but I can’t just forget my first Junior World Championship in Istanbul in 1998 and my first Senior one in Germany in 2003. Maybe because all my family was there supporting me in London and because of the impact that an Olympic medal has on the media I’d say this last one was a bit more special, but all of them were great.
Q. Being married to someone which has also been a star in Taekwondo and with such a similar story in the Olympics has been good for you or it’s put even more pressure on you?
A. Well, both of us love Taekwondo and love talking about Taekwondo. Having him next to me has always been a big help, because he’s been through all the situations I have experienced in my career (being injured, not qualifying for certain events, not winning medals when I was supposed to). He’s always been there supporting me and knowing what to tell me in every situation. He’s been a big help. It’s true that having a husband who is really into Taekwondo doesn’t let you leave your job behind at any time, but in the end I think it’s been really good for me.
Q. Do you think your silver in London has made Juan Antonio go over his disappointments in Athens and Beijing?
A. I was not only excited about this medal because it would be the final touch on my career, I was also excited because he couldn’t win it in Athens and Beijing when he was one of the favorites and also because my coach Elena Benítez couldn’t win despite of being a top fighter. It was more than a medal to me, it was the way of telling them “you couldn’t win yours, but you’ve helped me a lot to win this one”. And I know they were both as happy as me or even happier when I won it because they know they’re part of it. It’s not only mine but also theirs.
Q. The big success that Spanish Taekwondo has experienced in the London Olympics (1 gold medal –Joel González- and 2 silvers –Nicolás García and Brigitte Yagüe-) has lead many children from your country to start practicing Taekwondo. What is your advice for them?
A. I’d tell them that the most important thing is to enjoy the sport. They don’t have to be obsessed with winning medals in the tournaments but just have fun, learn every day, improve in every single training and learn Taekwondo’s discipline. After all, if they’re good enough and don’t give up, they’ll achieve what they want. If I would have given up after Beijing now I wouldn’t have my Olympic medal. But the best thing they’re going to get from Taekwondo is the great moments you live by training with your classmates and competing with them.
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