The 2011 Pan-American games, which took place in Guadalajara, Jalisco, in Mexico, recently concluded and as is common in international sporting events, we are exposed to the history behind the heroes– personal stories that helped form today’s winners.
You have probably never heard of Juan Carlos Guerrero; neither had I. In this excerpt (translated by me) he describes his life in an interview, the day after he won a silver medal:
An evening in the summer of 2004, at a billiards bar in Zacatecas, began a dream that yesterday concluded in a silver medal for Mexico in the ten thousand meters, for running.
Juan Carlos Romero, with a drink in his hand, watched Ana Gabriela Guevara racing in TV, in the Olympic Games of Athens, and the inspiration he felt made him resolve to change the course of his life. “I ran in middle school and junior high and then the life I had was of alcoholism and smoking, I grew up, it was a dangerous neighborhood”, he recalled.
“When I’d come out of a bar drunk, I couldn’t even stand up straight so I would sit for a little while on the curve and then I’d wake up the next day, at 11 am with people starting at me”.
He assures that [Mexican runner] Ana Guevara was his inspiration. “I was 26 years old, and one day they aired the Olympic Finals of Ana Guevara, and seeing her, I stopped drinking right there. I told my friends I was going to start running, even though at that moment I was holding a beer and a cigarette”, he admitted.
“I have friends in jail, dead friends, others still in rehab centers; I was able to get out, I studied a career and one good day I bought my running shoes and now here I am, with a Pan-American medal”.
Immediately after the race was over a reporter asked him what had been his key for not giving up, for finishing strong; he responded with a simple yet meaningful “Endure, endure, endure”.
In racing, like in life itself, he sure has.