On April 7th, Argentina held the CVI Buenos Aires and the open Latin American Championships (it remains a mystery to me, why we call it Latin American rather than South American, or PanAmerican or American Championships as in most other official continental references, this has always intrigued me, since my time as a vaulter). But, moving on. The CVI was held in Buenos Aires and reports tell us that it was a pretty incredible party. It is currently on its second edition and it welcomed vaulters from 12 different categories. Among the participants, there were Brazilians, Argentinians, Colombians, Uruguaians, Peruvians and French.
It was a pretty interesting event for those who might be interested in how the preparations for the World Championships for Jrs are going around our incredible continent.
To learn more about this weekend in Buenos Aires, we decided to talk to Nicolas Martinez, Nicolas was crowned the
South Latin American Champion in the Senior 3* category. You might remember Nicolas from the Brazilian Squad, he is a well-known member of the Brazilian vaulting scene and we have talked to him before, in 2016, on our ten year retrospective. It was pretty cool!
To see the full results of Buenos Aires, check out Vaulting Results here.
1. This was your first international competition as an individual in a while. What can you tell us about this new individual cycle?
Just to clarify something, Nicolas stopped vaulting for a while, he was placed at the 11th position at the World Championships in 2008 and came back to the squad a few years ago.
Yes, this was my first competition since the World Championships in Czech Republic, in 2008, so it had been almost 10 years since I had last felt the emotion of competing at an international CVI. It was truly a lot of fun to feel once again those butterflies in my stomach and the competition feeling. The best part is to be able to go back home feeling proud of myself, of my teammates and of everyone involved in this preparation, including my coaches and my family; without their support, this would be much harder.
The decision to compete individually came from me and from my coaches. Since we have the Junior World Championships this year and I will not be able to compete, (I am evidently no longer a jr) I decided to give individuals another chance this way I get to keep on training and working on my fitness.
Our real goal is the World Equestrian Games in 2018 with the senior team, but the competition experience was really good, we are already speaking of maybe going to Aachen in July and, as we know, that is the Mecca of equestrian sports. I have been to the CHIO Aachen before, but every time we go back, it feels as if it was the first time because the competition is simply outstanding and the technical level is absurd, vaulting wise. I am really looking forward and dedicating my training to going back there again and competing amongst friends.
2. For the second straight year, Buenos Aires hosted one of the most important competitions in the region. How was the CVI for you?
Indeed, it was our second year going to the most important CVI in the region; last year I went with the Senior Team and we went home with the gold medal, and this year I went as an individual.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful city, it is amazing to be there and being able to compete makes it even better. The CVI organizers have been dedicating themselves more on each edition and the proof of that is the amount of athletes and countries that were there this year (we counted 34 entries, in 2017). They have really improved the organization from one year to another, the CVI happens in the La Rural building, a convention centre that hosts one of the biggest animal fairs in Latin America, with expositions about horses, kettle, cats and dogs. I am absolutely sure that the 2018 edition will be even better.
Speaking solely of Brazil, we brought to Argentina the biggest Brazilian delegation that we ever took to any international competition ever; we were able to compete in almost every category.
3. This year we have three CVIs scheduled in South America (CVIs Quito, Bogotá, and Buenos Aires) how should we see the sport’s evolution in the region and what do you think is the next step for it to grow?
Latin American vaulting is always evolving. Sometimes this happens slowly and sometimes we see it happening fast. However, I believe that time has shown that it is always growing, the proof of that was the Brazilian squad that managed to finish the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in the 6th position. Last year, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia competed at the World Championships in Le Mans, which also shows our strength. There is still a long way to go, but I think that we are on the right track. The CVIs are a result of that, in the past we only had international competitions hosted in Brazil, this year we have three of them and I think that we can we can expect more surprises for 2018. Maybe we can even have a CVI in Brazil again.
As I mentioned before, I strongly believe that we are on the right track to consolidate ourselves as a vaulting power. However, we still need a lot of effort and dedication from everyone involved. I know many of the people working in Latin American vaulting, and I am certain that they are giving their best and that each one of them is doing what is possible to develop the sport in the region.
One important aspect that shows our potential is that we have our very own Jr World Champion, Juan Martin Clavijo, who won the first World Championships for Jrs back in 2015, beating the Europeans, who, as usual, were the favourites for the title.
4. In a year with Junior World Championships and on the edge of the World Equestrian games of 2018, CVI Buenos Aires is some sort of window into what we can expect to see this season, what is your impression of Latin American vaulting for this season? Any surprises in which you would recommend that we keep an eye out for in Austria?
Yes, I do believe that it is a window, but I also think that the individuals and teams that will be in Austria still have a long way to go. It was the first international competition of many of us since Le Mans, we know that time is short and we still have a lot of work to do. Vaulting is full of surprises, it requires a lot of training, but both positive and negative surprises can come along.
I believe that the teams from Argentina and Brazil will be very strong in Austria, I can speak a little bit better about the Brazilian squad because we train together and they are really working hard on building a strong team, I hope they surprise everyone in August. They have Agnes Werhahn and Kathy Steinberg as coaches, and Kathy came with us to Buenos Aires. We also have Carla Massenzi as a national coach; they were the same coaches that helped us reach the 8th place in Le Mans last year. Our athletes are young, but they have a lot of national and international experience.
We also have a few individuals competing for Brazil, Argentina and Colombia and I think that it is worth keeping an eye on them. As the competition approaches, training gets more intense and, again, surprises might appear. They will be prepared when they get to Austria.
From what I saw at the CVI, every country is putting their best effort into this preparation, they are really trying to bring their best teams and individuals, so if there is one thing that I know for sure is that we will have a very good competition, with a high technical level.
5. This is a “light” year for senior teams, but we have been seeing a lot of News from Brazilian Juniors towards Ebreichsdorf, how is planning going? Are you already thinking about the USA with the senior squad?
Yes, as I mentioned before, this year the focus will be on the juniors at least until the middle of the year, since the Worlds are at our doorstep. However, I believe that senior athletes from around the globe are not standing still; everyone is working hard.
Taking our Brazilian team as an example, the base of our senior team is, in great extent, made of our junior athletes; we only have three athletes who are over 18 years old. Myself, who have been competing individually, Fernanda Dib, who competed in Buenos Aires as an individual and finished both the Latin American Championships and the CVI in 2nd place, and Izac Araújo, better known as Izzy, who was in BA as a coach and managed to bring forward a Sr 1* squad that ended the competition in the first position. In one way or another, we are all working to improve our vaulting and our technique so that we are better prepared and have the best possible team for the WEGs. I believe that for Izzy, and me this will be our last worlds as athletes and I am certain we will both give our best to it, the rest of the team, knowing that this will be our goodbyes, will also want to do their best and send us away in good fashion after years of dedication to Brazilian vaulting. If we managed to reach the best possible results, we owe that to Maria Luiza Giugni, who is our chied d’equipe, and to our families, but we want to add another one to our records, so we are already looking towards the USA in 2018.
In the meantime, the preparations for our Jr Team are going strong, very intense and they are dedicating themselves to the fullest. We have athletes from three different clubs (Sociedade Hípica Paulista, Sociedade Hípica de Campinas and Clube Hípico de Santo Amaro) so we are sure that this is the best possible team, they competed in Buenos Aires and finished in 2nd place. It is a relatively new squad, they do not have the experience of two old men like Izzy and I, so they are still learning and adapting. However, they are giving 100% and I am sure that they will do a beautiful job in representing Brazil. As we saw at the CVI, they are really embracing the project and want to do a good job.