María Pérez: “I hope to reach the level of my rivals in Paris”


The Spanish athlete María Pérez, double world champion in the 20 and 35 kilometer walk, stated that she hopes to “reach the level” of her rivals for Paris 2024 despite having had a “delay” in preparation due to an injury. and he confessed that the pressure “benefits” him more than it harms him.

“I’m looking forward to Paris, but at the same time I’m uncertain because of the injury I suffered that stopped me in October, which has made me four months behind compared to my rivals. I hope to reach their level. We have advanced the process, “I haven’t done pre-season running as such, but we just started marching and I’ve noticed that difference,” commented the Spanish walker in an interview in ‘Glamour’ magazine.

The current world champion in 20 and 35 km walk explained that there is “no athlete” who does not have “pain.” “We always have some, even if we don’t pay 100% attention to them. I think that for other things I wouldn’t last that long, but for running I have a very high pain threshold. I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” she added.

Regarding the way to prepare for big events, Pérez commented that a year “is very long” and that they work on “different things” in addition to practicing “other types of sports.” “The weeks are divided into these work cycles, depending on which one we are in, one thing or another is done,” he said.

“The first three months from September to November we are running with a little walking where we work on technique. Afterwards, we start with walking progressively, very little by little, focusing more on the specific work part, and at the end of the season is when I do speed series, exercises that increase my speed. I train from Monday to Sunday, some days in the morning and afternoon, more or less, we are talking about an average of 120 to 125 km per week,” explained the woman from Granada.

A sacrifice that entails spending “many hours away from home”, which is why people seek “the warmth”. “We are people who have feelings, thoughts and in the end we need our own. I am very proud that my family has always been by my side and has supported me in all my decisions. That in the end is a fundamental pillar,” she added.

Regarding the pressure of expecting a great result, the Grenadian is clear that it “benefits her more” than it “harms” her and that she puts pressure on herself. “There are people who know how to manage it better and others don’t. Today, thanks to Simone Biles, that taboo that we had in society was removed and many more athletes, who are references, raised their voices. That is very important to take into account” , he explained.

“I feel lucky today, because my work is my passion. I am privileged. When I was eight years old I liked all sports. By chance in life I was given the discipline that I knew the least and that after years in it, I makes me feel very proud to be in a category with so much history, with so many good results. At the same time, it is a responsibility,” explained the Andalusian walker.

The world champion claimed that athletic walking “deserves” to have “visibility” because it is the one that has given “the most medals” to “Spanish athletics.” “They always remember her at the big summer events: at the Olympic Games, or at the World Cup. That’s when results are expected and the athletes are put under pressure,” she explained.

“It is a legacy that the past and the present has left us and I hope that we leave a very high future. It is true that it is the forgotten one in that sense, the one that has the least impact and the one that when it does, it earns it hard. of great results,” emphasized María Pérez.

The Spaniard also commented that walking is “a very subjective sport” and that it does not depend “only on the athlete” but also on whether “those people” see that your walking “is correct.” “The regulations require that it be judged through the human eye. We want it to be modernized, to introduce electronics, to change the regulations, because there are aspects that are a little obsolete and do not make much sense,” she claimed.


The Spanish champion claimed that athletics is “a sport that does not discriminate based on sex, race or culture.” “We are all equal when it comes to starting the starting line, when jumping or running. I feel proud that both men and women are going to win based on their results. In the big championships, the prizes go to all the same,” he noted.

María Pérez also reported that her scholarships are public, but that “the minimum” of the federation “is below the minimum interprofessional salary.” “Right now, I am a double world champion, but I only have one scholarship, for the 20 km because it is the Olympic event, that is, I have given a medal to Spanish athletics, to the country. I knew what the rules were and I accept it,” he added.

“Currently, being a world and European champion, I have been able to make a good living from athletics. But buying a house is difficult, you have to spend many years saving, because in the end it is a sport or a specialty that depends on your results. If the year is bad you don’t have any scholarship,” explained the world champion of 20 and 35 kilometer walk.

The Andalusian explained that there are athletes who go to the Olympic Games and “do not have a scholarship” and that there is the possibility that those granted by the Spanish Olympic Committee may “not arrive on time” and that without that money “maybe” that athlete “cannot participate.” “We are a bad example. We have good athletes, good coaches, but we do not take care of ourselves like other sister countries around us, see Italy or France,” she said.

“In Spain, an athlete can spend 15 or 20 years representing his country and at the end of his career he receives nothing. He brings great results and only receives thanks and a pat on the back. Your sporting life is over, you you retire and you have nothing in return, after having given your all for your country, for all those people who wear the flag or stick out their chests when you have a great result,” Pérez concluded.