Mexican diver Juan Celaya during one of his competitions at the 2019 Pan American Games.Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
The first times that Juan Celaya (Monterrey, 22 years old) saw the pit from the trampoline, he had a hole in his stomach.
He prefers to call that moment “feeling ñañaras”.
Every time he is on the edge and stands on his toes, he feels the air brushing his ears.
The only thing he visualizes is the type of dive and he calls on the memory of his muscles for the movement.
If it is already a challenge to maneuver the body into a dive, doing it in sync with a partner is the biggest challenge.
"These are years of practice, reaction work, technique and strength," he resolves as if he were a veteran.
And is not for less.
His teacher and synchronized partner is Yahel Castillo, 34.
Both are the strong card for Mexico in Tokyo 2020.
Rommel Pacheco, a leap to charisma
Dafne Navarro and the moment of splendor of Mexican gymnastics
Nuria Diosdado, the swimmer who dreamed of space: "I always want more and that is why I have come far"
Celaya, when he was a child, believed himself to be a spider. Not Spider-Man, just an arachnid who crawled through trees to the fear of his parents. There were days when a tiger was also believed. They took him to practice soccer, football, and swimming. Nothing could quench the energy of the future diver. “From the age of seven my parents asked me to choose a sport. My sister, Ana, got into diving and it looked cool how they threw themselves ”, he tells EL PAÍS. At age 11 he won three gold medals in a Pan American tournament. At that point, he set about competing in the Olympics. “Diving has been in the background. My family instilled in me that school first ”, says the already civil engineer. He studied his career at the University of Louisiana in the United States. "I came here hoping for the best,They let me compete in Mexico and study at ease, ”he says. Celaya became one of the stellar athletes of the university. The student-athlete model has been key in the US system for recruiting and promoting sport.
Mexico has earned its place in the world of diving. It is the sport that has given the country the most medals with 14 medals (one gold, seven silver and six bronzes). “I had no reference when I entered diving, I did not know anything or who the best were. I only saw my companions, ”says the Mexican who later came across the legacy of Joaquín Capilla, Fernando Platas, Carlos Girón ... In Tokyo, the Mexican delegation will attend with 16 divers. Juan Celaya will pair with Castillo, one of the most experienced of the team. Both shone at the 2019 Pan American Games with the gold medal from the three-meter springboard. “We started working together in 2018 on a national selective. Fortunately, our somatotype [body type] is very similar, our technique and style of diving.We trained for two hours and made a qualification of an experienced couple ”, he explains. What Castillo has learned the most is “to feel safe on the diving board, not to shrink if someone made a good dive. Sometimes he sees me very serious and helps me break the ice ”.
"Why does Mexico shine in diving?"
- Our complexion and height is a favorable factor.
We are compact, short, we turn faster in less distance.
What characterizes us is that Mexicans always try for the most difficult dives.
We go with everything with whoever is in front - explains Celaya.
Yahel Castillo and Juan Celaya, after winning the medal in synchronized diving at the 2019 Pan American Games.Jam Media / Getty Images
His usual workouts are from Monday to Saturday, each day with a morning session and an afternoon session. "The question of how many sit-ups we do should be changed to how many years of sit-ups we do," he jokes. The pandemic prevented Celaya from being able to bring in his coach, Doug Shaffer. From a distance the diver records all his jumps and asks his
. “What I'm trying to manage is my adrenaline. In the finals you feel an adrenaline boost, you feel stronger. Now I try to manage that in my favor ”, he details.
Celaya, who grew up in northern Mexico, is a fan of the soccer team, the Tigres.
During the first days in the Olympic dining room in Tokyo, the diver did not miss the opportunity to ask for a photograph of the top scorer, Frenchman André-Pierre Gignac.
The University of Louisiana's mascot is also a tiger.
Reasons and coincidences were left over for the animal to be tattooed on the left rib.
“The tiger's philosophy is that it doesn't stop seeing its prey until it reaches it.
Besides that it is my birth animal in the Chinese calendar.
I added some flowers as a crown to remember my mother, my sister, my aunt and my grandmother.
The women of my life.
They always take care of me.
When I enter the water, the drops fall on the roses, not the tiger, ”he explains.
On the trampoline he wants to shine.
Date and time of competition
Juan Celaya and Yahel Castillo will compete in the dives from three meters on Wednesday, July 28 at 1:00 a.m. (Central Mexico time)
of EL PAÍS México and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of this country