Juan Carlos Garrido is one of the most experienced athletes in the Paralympic world.

With a lot of experience in his body, the weightlifter managed to set a new record at the Parapan American Games in Lima 2019, becoming one of his best sports experiences so far.

How did you start your sports career? Did you imagine that you would dedicate your life to high-performance sports?

I always liked sport, but as a kid I had no idea what Paralympic sport was. At school I liked to play ball and I always fought to be given the goalkeeper position. I even wanted to join a team, but the idea fell through. At the age of 15 I decided to dabble in basketball, but I realized that I wasn't going to get very far, because I played on weekends for entertainment and what I wanted was to compete, to win. After a while, a friend invited me to lift weights at the CAR and Victor Rubilar saw me there, my current coach, who told me that I had good conditions. I started training sporadically and after three months he told me that we were going to go to a world championship in Dubai. It was a surprise for me and my parents, because I had never left my house, but this trip meant the beginning of this beautiful career and of my independence. 

How did you experience your time at the Lima 2019 Games? What did it mean to win gold and establish a new record?

Lima 2019 was a spectacular experience for me. I always said that it had to be my competition, but it had to be my way. I wanted to enjoy it and at the same time have good results. In my previous competitions I felt that I did not enjoy my triumphs 100%. Although I was happy about my medals, I felt that I was under pressure to compete and that I had to fulfill others' expectations. For Lima 2019 I left all that behind and had an incredible time. I screamed and danced at the inauguration, I took advantage of every second of the event and also did super well in sports. I remember that on the day of the competition, I felt a great energy. My colleagues and my brother were cheering me on. Those shouts of the C-H-I filled me with courage and I wanted to leave everything in the competition. I was able to break the record twice to set my 187kg mark, which meant the gold medal. It was really a dream competition for me and a great experience. 

How have you trained during the pandemic? Has it been very difficult?

It has been a complicated issue, not entirely because of the pandemic, but because of the passing of my mother. A week after the confinement was ordered, I had to be away for a few weeks and then go back again. However, the objective remains clear, to get to the next Games well, have a good performance and be able to get a medal. In that sense, training in this context has had a positive and a negative side. Positive because we can continue training, unlike some athletes who have not been able to do it for 3 or 4 months. For this reason, we must thank the people of the CAR who have had all the disposition for us to continue working and have never made us feel like a nuisance. And the negative is that we have lowered our sessions. Before we trained two or three times a day, now we only do it once. It is also difficult to do it without your coach physically. We have video call practices, but it's not like we're in front of each other. Obviously there are things that we would like to be different, but at least we keep working and that is super important.

How do you see the construction of the Paralympic Training Center?

We are very pleased. I think it responds to the results, to the progress that the Paralympic sport has had in our country. It is also nice to see how things are progressing and that they are not just promises. I emphasize the relevance that the authorities have given it and the importance that Minister Cecilia Pérez gives us; It is also significant to see that both our opinions and those of experts and trainers are taken into account, because ultimately those who create and execute this project attend to our needs. Working together is essential for it to be truly successful

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