For Donovan Carrillo, his journey to the Olympics was nothing but tortuous.
Born in football-crazed Mexico, figure skating was not the sport of choice for children. But even in the face of opposition, Carrillo chose to hold out.
“As a kid, I was bullied at school for practicing figure skating because other kids say it was a girl-only sport,” the 22-year-old explained after finishing 22nd in the men’s free skating program on Thursday.
“Because we don’t have a lot of guys practicing or competing; now we have one. But before that it was something very unusual. But I always knew I liked it, so I decided not to listen to them and put me on my skates to concentrate.”
As a 13-year-old, Carrillo chose to leave his family in Guadalajara because the ice rink was closed.
Because he lived in León, the only available place for the Carrillo train was the local ice rink, and the location was not closed to regulars while he went to the ice. He had to practice his runs and jumps while others skated around him.
At the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, Carrillo became the first Mexican figure skating Olympian since Albertville 1992, when Riccardo Olavarrieta took to the ice in the short program.
But after hitting the rink at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Thursday, Carrillo says competing in the Winter Olympics is a “dream” for Mexico.
“Everything started with a dream. As kids, we always watch the Olympics on TV. Being a sports enthusiast, I always wanted to represent my country at one of the (the) Olympics. I made it with figure skating. So for me the Olympics are just proof that dreams come true.”
Carrillo continued: “Representing my country in the Winter Olympics with the best athletes around the world in figure skating is something very inspiring for me and I think not just for me, but for my whole country.
“Now, after my performance in the short program, I got a lot of messages from them that they were super proud of me. I’m just thankful for that and also motivated to do my best and keep fighting for more dreams, more goals.
“I hope that my performance here in Beijing can inspire more children and (young people) to develop and practice winter sports. In my country we don’t have a ski, we don’t have a snowboard. But at least we have figure skating and hockey, so I would like to invite them to try it, because maybe they can find their passion and find themselves, just like I did with figure skating.”