Her passion for photography runs in the family. Her father, a shutterbug, used to take her photo often, which is why, when young Estela started shooting photos with her own camera, she featured the people who were part of her life.
Ready to make history
She’s only 18, but her name has started to make the headlines and front pages at the same speed as she wins new records and medals. She crushes records and advances at leaps and bounds. Her goal: to carve a niche for herself among the worldwide athletics elite.
They say that being in a hurry isn’t good, but María Vicente (Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, 2001) seems set on proving otherwise. This Spanish Generation Z athlete has set her sights on making history at the same breakneck speed as she surpasses records and places. At 18, she admits that her life has changed. “Because of my job, I’ve had to stop doing things that other girls my age do, but I don’t consider it a sacrifice. Being able to do what I love is a privilege”, she tells Talento a bordo. More than love, we would say that this young Catalan girl is passionate about what she does, given that she hasn’t stopped beating new records on sand, Tartan or any other surface that she steps on.
More specifically, María Vicente has won a total of 26 records, two national records in the absolute category and two other worldwide U-18 records. The person responsible for giving her the athletics itch is her mother, confesses María, who is now a judge and trainer of a sport she practiced at school, but that started to interest her more when she saw her daughter’s great potential.
Continuing with her family tree, it is likely that her Cuban father is responsible for the genetic factor; or, in other words, for the natural talent that most athletes born on the island seem to have. From Niurka Montalvo to Joan Lino, and, more recently Orlando Ortega. Nevertheless, María Vicente seems uprooted from Cuba, where she considers “the good training method and base” particularly noteworthy. However, she disagrees when we ask her if part of her physical ability is innate. “To be here, you need to be mentally strong, because when a race doesn’t turn out well, you need to give your all in the next race to make up for the lost points. And also, a lot of will power to train and compete when things become difficult”.
It’s obvious that you have to be born with the optimum abilities to be able to compete at the highest level in any sport. The current absolute champion of heptathlon and pentathlon in Spain doesn’t deny this. Nevertheless, she does emphasise that “you can train and improve anything”, something that seems ingrained in her mind and is an essential part of her formula to attract more and more success and, subsequently, attention and headlines. For María, the pressure also increases at the same rate as she makes a name for herself within the sports world, although she doesn’t seem fazed. “I handle it well. I like to make the most of what life offers me and have a positive attitude. It’s what gives me the most strength to fight for what I want”, she adds.
“You should always have a dream and Tokyo Olympics are mine”
The multitalented athlete also replies at the speed of light, perhaps betraying her daydream, when we ask her who her idol is: Usain Bolt. But there are more. “I would also say Jorge Ureña, European indoor heptathlon champion, because it hasn’t been easy for him, and he’s still fighting to make his dreams come true”, she adds. Despite this, she’s hard-pressed to choose a favourite category out of the seven she competes in. After thinking for a few seconds, she admits that her favourites are “long jump (which she thinks is what she’s best at) and 200 metres, although I also really like hurdles”.
The olympic dream on the horizon
And what about the future? What are María Vicente’s goals? The young ‘record-breaker’ slows down and tells us that she’s going to start studying Marketing and Digital Communication. “Although I’m not going to be taking all my classes so that I can combine my studies with sport”, she explains. María visualises the red racetrack and the brown sand and her mind revs up again thinking about being on the next U-20 Wold Championship podium, where she assures us “I will give my all to win the medals”. Her other big challenge? “To achieve the qualifying standard to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. I know it’s going to be very difficult, but you should always have a dream and this is my dream”, she says.
María Vicente, at just 18, has currently won five gold medals, three for heptathlon (U-18 European and World Championship, where she also achieved the best score in the history of Spanish female athletes, and U-20 European champion) and two for triple jump (gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival and U-18 European champion). The athlete has also won a silver medal in the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games and this year has competed for the first time in the Absolute European Championship, where she came in a commendable ninth place. Successes that she has achieved in only two years, between 2017 and 2019.