Juan Martin Clavijo, brought Colombia its first ever championship medal in 2015 after winning gold at the World Championships for Jrs in Ermelo. Since then, the young Colombian rising star worked hard for his debut as a senior at the World Championships in Le Mans, 2016, but not without losing sight of his next great adventure: The opportunity to defend his title at the World Championships for Jrs in 2017.
I first interviewed Juan Martin in 2015 right after the Worlds in 2015. One year has gone by since then and I decided to ask his impressions about his first season as a senior.
He finished Le Mans in the 9th position, but the young athlete is only 17 years old. We ended up having a long chat about his plans for the future and his opinions on vaulting in South America.
Here are the best moments:
Celina: How was this first season as a senior at the international stage for you?
Juan Martin: Turning to senior was really cool for me, I liked it, but it was also difficult, as I also had to train for the technical test. I knew I had to train a lot because there is a huge level difference between juniors and seniors.
I actually plan to compete again in junior during 2017, I will be 17 and it will be my last chance to compete in the junior worlds again, I am planning to go to a CVI before the junior worlds, but I don’t know yet which one it might be.
C. You just began training the tech test this year?
J: Well I started right after the Junior Worlds, so like a year before today.
C: That’s interesting! And did you practice in Europe for the Worlds or did you focus in Colombia?
J: For the junior worlds, I trained in Europe for 2 weeks, right before the words, and for the seniors, 3 weeks. For the Jrs I trained with Jacques and Sandra Tronchet, and this time I only trained with Sandra, but sometimes Jacques was also there, as he vaults Sandra’s horses with his team.
C: Have you ever thought of maybe spending more time in Europe once you’re done with your studies?
J: I’ve thought about maybe spending more time in Europe training, maybe when I am done with school, or for a summer, but I don’t know yet what I will do.
C: Do you see yourself as the first sr world medalist from South America in the future?
J: Yeah, I would definitely like to be sr world medalist, so that’s like my goal.
C: Tell me a little bit about vaulting in Colombia. How are you guys doing and could we expect more rising stars like yourself?
J: We are still very much behind, particularly because there are no vaulters, currently we are not even a hundred, even though we have competitions, about 6 a year and a national championship. I think the sport might be growing, as these last 2 years we have been bringing people to give us clinics, to teach trainers about horses, and to teach judges, so there’s a plan to develop vaulting in Colombia, but still, it isn’t growing that much. I don’t think that in the coming years Colombia will be very present, but maybe a few of us will compete at international competitions.
C: Do you feel more prepared today to defend your title next year than you were in 2015 to get the gold medal?
J: I have the feeling that next year’s junior worlds, are going to be quite different from last year’s because many juniors have changed to seniors by now. I do feel more prepared, I have been to Europe twice since 2015 training and competing, still I’m scared, because now that I have the junior world title, I want to earn it once again.
C: You mentioned that winning the gold medal for South America is one of your goals, what challenges do you foresee on your road to reach that?
J: I think that it will be challenging to have a medal winning freestyle. I think that compulsories are my strongest, also improving some of my technical elements will be hard, but actually I think the biggest one will be having the chance to show the judges what I’ve got before the championships, because I think it’s important that judges get to know your performance, I think I will need to win an important CVI competing with the favorites for title, I need to show to the judges that can beat them, so that I can have a medal a senior world championship. And because I am from outside Europe, this will be hard to accomplish, as I don’t have the chance to be in many CVIs.
We look forward to hearing a little bit more about Juan Martin in the future, in the meantime, you can watch his performance in Le Mans here.