We are just days away from the 2014 Winter Olympics! We want to elevate your excitement by celebrating the Olympic achievements of one of our athletes, Juan Valdivieso. Juan answered five questions for us.
1) Fill us in! Describe your Olympic accomplishments!
It was always my dream to compete in the Olympics. My grandfather played soccer (as the goal keeper for Peru) in the 1930 World Cup and the 1936 Olympics, and growing up seeing his pictures inspired me to reach for that level. For me it was an accomplishment just to qualify for and compete in the Olympics, where I represented Peru in the 100m and 200m butterfly. Although my best performance was in between Olympics at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to compete in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.
2) When did you know you could compete on an international/Olympic level?
I grew up swimming on a team with a big Olympic tradition (the Curl-Burke Swim Club in Washington, D.C.). From a young age, I swam in the same pool as Olympic gold medalists. Seeing them on a daily basis and realizing that they were normal human beings who did extraordinary things motivated me to aspire to reach that level as well. I trained with a very talented and hard working group of swimmers and an inspirational coach who helped us dream big, set goals and achieve them. In the summer of 1998 I had a huge drop in the 200 m fly (I dropped from a 2:15 to a 2:04) and it suddenly seemed realistic to compete seriously at the international level.
3) What was your most embarrassing athletic moment?
My most embarrassing athletic moment was when I was 6 years old and I was cheering for my sister who was competing at a swim meet in the middle of winter. I was running alongside the pool screaming my lungs out, and I got so excited and carried away that I lost my balance and fell in the pool, fully clothed, on top of the swimmer in lane 1. It was not a fun car ride home!
4) When did you start competing in triathlon?
I started competing in triathlon after the Olympics in 2004. I had run cross-country in high school, and I thought it made sense to give triathlon a try. I’m really glad I did because it allowed me to keep swimming, but the different disciplines kept things interesting and fresh. It also gave me a chance to continue competing internationally when I qualified to represent Team USA in the 2011 International Triathlon Union Amateur World Championships.
5) Of your family and friends, who “likes” your sport the most and why?
I don’t know if my parents and sister still “like” my sport after they endured my Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky, which took place in 90+ degree weather, but I appreciate that just supporting me for that long in those conditions was an act of love. I am also thankful that my partner, Matt, is understanding and supportive of my training schedule and competition commitments.