Olympics is 'crazy dream' for Mexican skater who trains in mall

4. Olympics is 'crazy dream' for Mexican skater who trains in mall
Mexico's Donovan Carrillo competes in the men's single skating short program of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
BEIJING — Donovan Carrillo practices on an ice rink in a shopping mall and only got into figure skating in the first place to impress a girl.

But on Tuesday he became the first Mexican to progress past the first round of the Olympic figure skating — and had a lot of fun doing it.اضافة اعلان

A vivacious short program performance to Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and "Shake It" — complete with a cheeky hip thrust — earned him a personal-best score and a place in the men's single free skate on Thursday in Beijing. 

"I didn't want it to end," he said. "I wanted to keep skating and living the Olympic dream."

In trying to show off to a girl as an eight-year-old boy, he found his calling.

Now 22, it is a "dream come true" to be at the Beijing Games.

"Many people told me during the beginning of my career that this was a crazy dream for a kid," he said. "They were always laughing or telling me it was impossible for a Mexican to qualify.

"I never wanted to think like that and I always tried to push harder."

He credited his coach, with whom he shared a long hug before taking his starting position on Tuesday, with believing in him from a young age. 


Carrillo landed a difficult quadruple toe loop jump early in his routine and visibly drew confidence from this.

"Yeah I was super happy," he laughed. "I tried to calm a little bit because I had the whole program (to go!)"

He said he had to make adjustments to it because the shopping mall rink is not Olympic-sized — in fact, there are none in Mexico that are. 

"It’s challenging, I am not lying," he said of the limitations. 

Most of the other skaters he trains with are 11 to 14-year-old girls, at novice or intermediate level. 

But he said instead of being negative, "I always try to work with what I have and I think that’s key for me to be here."

Carrillo has no plans to try and change his training situation.

"I think it’s working," he said. "So when something is working, I don’t believe in change too much."

'Like an onion'

Carrillo was the first Mexican figure skater to qualify for the Olympics in 30 years and is conscious he is one of the few Latin American athletes at the Winter Games. 

He picked the music for his routine because Carlos Santana was born in Mexico and because he is Carrillo's father's favorite artist. 

Carrillo's striking costume, a black shirt streaked with rays of golden crystals, was custom-made for free by Mexican designer Edgar Lozano. 

"I always try to think on different artists who motivate me to represent my country at the world level," Carrillo said. 

There is one last thing about the Beijing Games he is not used to — the sub-zero cold. 

"I’m like an onion, I always put some layers on me," he laughed. "But I'm having a great time." 

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