HUACHO, 28 July – Three hours of electricity per day, no internet or washing machines, rain, cold and solitude in the Peruvian desert – the Argentine canoe sprint team was ready to go to any lengths to stand on the podium at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.
The 12 Argentine paddlers and team staff travelled to the Albufera Medio Mundo canoe sprint venue, 187 kilometers from Lima, three weeks before the start of the Games to get an edge over their rivals.
What they did not count on was the challenge of living in such a remote place.
“It’s something else,” said Manuel LASCANO (ARG). “We did not have a lot of light, only three hours of light in the day, and nobody to see, only us. That was difficult.”
The electricity supply at their hotel, located two kilometers from the venue, was limited to three hours a day, during which the athletes rushed to charge their electrical appliances.
With no internet other than a weak connection through their local phones, the evenings were spent reading books, watching pre-loaded movies, playing cards, chatting or, in the case of Gonzalo CARRERAS (ARG), catching up on schoolwork in nutrition science.
For much of the three weeks they were each other’s only company, aside from rare venue appearances by Ecuadorian paddlers and Peruvian rowers.
Meals were served outside, and since training went from early morning to late afternoon, this usually meant eating in the dark surrounded by insects.
“We didn’t have a place with a roof for dinner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner all under the lights of the stars,” said Sabrina AMEGHINO (ARG). “We didn’t have a washing machine or anything so we were surviving over there at the end of the course.”
This Spartan lifestyle paid off as both the men’s and women’s K4 teams won medals on the second day of the canoe sprint competition at Lima 2019.
The men’s victory in the K4 500m was the first for Argentina in the event at the Pan American Games, while the women managed to repeat their personal best of third place in the 500m.
“It was hard,” CARRERAS said of the team’s three-week solitude in Albufera Media Mundo. “The weather wasn’t too good. It was cold and rainy almost every day, cloudy. It was hard to be here but we were focused on the race and it helped us a lot.
“We knew the course. We knew how to paddle with this wind. We trained every morning and afternoon. Training, sleeping and eating, that’s all we did the last three weeks.”
Source: NSLima2019 ls/ic/mb