CLAUDIA SUÁREZ AND ALEXIA SOTOMAYOR: TWO SUCCESSFUL SIDES OF SPORT PASSION
Each one of them has made history at Lima 2019.
The Pan American Games left us a great lesson. There is no age limit nor specific reason to practice sports. Some may say their stories are entirely different, but they actually share the same passion: sport.
While Claudia was claiming her seventh consecutive title in frontón, .Alexia had already started flutter kicking in the water.
At age 51, Claudia Suárez won the gold in Peruvian frontón at the last Pan American Games and has never been defeated after claiming the national crown 20 years ago.
Alexia Sotomayor also broke the mold. At just 13 years old, she became the youngest Peruvian athlete to participate in a Pan American Games and impressed the world by breaking her own records. She almost qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the 500 m freestyle final.
Both met each other for the first time this weekend during the Festival “Learn Through Play”, which aimed to promote de Parapan American Games that will be held from August 23 to September 1.
“I practiced swimming for many years, but when my shoulders started to broaden I didn’t like it that much, so I got into racket sports,” told us Claudia when asked if she had ever tried professional swimming?
For Alexia, the Pan American Games experience was unforgettable and also a big step in her career that has just started. “We competed against Olympic medalists and world record holders. I had the chance of going up against them, and that motivates me. It felt so good. When you’re competing, you focus on yourself to try to improve and pursue your goals,” mentioned Alexia.
Claudia’s First Steps
Claudia gave her first steps in sports in squash. “I started competing at the age of 15 in a squash South American championship held in Paraguay. When I was 13, I wasn't even thinking about competing; I didn’t even know what sport I wanted to play at all. When I see Alexia, I see a great role model for kids. My son is 15, and I’m dying to see what sport he’ll choose. It’s complicated because you can’t force kids. You have to let them be themselves and choose what sport they like the most. They must decide on their own. I also had to make that decision at some point,” indicated the Pan American medalist.
So after hearing all her experience, we asked Claudia to give Alexia a piece of advice. “You must be very disciplined and train hard to be an elite athlete. I used to go to parties too, but there must be some limits. I didn’t understand it at her age either, but my parents helped me out.”
Currently, Claudia works a Peruvian frontón teacher. “I’ve been teaching kids for 17 years now because I want to promote sports practice. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness. The sports career is incredible, and it gives you many satisfactions,” added the Pan American medalist with her usual serenity.
Then, we asked Alexia: “What kind of teacher do you think Claudia is?” I think she helps everyone who wants to improve. She’s not a serious teacher, but she does like discipline,” said the young athlete.
Claudia immediately added: “I’m very motherly with children. Everyone sees me as their mom, and that helps me teach them better.”
Life at 13
Alexia is still on vacations and is about to start her first high-school year. She was six months old when she first touched the water. Her mother, who also practiced swimming, took a course for mothers and babies. At age 5, she started swimming in a sports club.
Being an elite athlete takes a lot of effort, and Alexia had to wait until the end to confirm her participation in Lima 2019. “First, they had to validate my mark because of my age, but at the end they let me participate, and I was proud to represent Peru.”
“I get a lot of support from my school. They help me catch up and make up my exams. Sport changes your lifestyle; for example, my friends go to parties, but I have to give up some of those activities due to my training. If I want to be the best, I have to train every day,” mentioned Alexia sure of herself.
Her priorities are straight: “Going to the Pan American Games in Chile and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. I see myself on the podium,” concluded Alexia.
Claudia listens closely and tells her that “the feeling of winning a medal is incredible. It makes all the effort worth it.”
The Most Expected Event: Lima 2019
“Lima 2019 was a memorable event, and I hope all my students get to compete in a large tournament like this one,” said Claudia in regard to her future students.
“Representing my country made me proud. It was amazing to see all the stands packed and receiving the support of all Peruvians,” added Alexia when remembering her participation in Lima 2019 last August 8.
“My followers increased after the Games. Before the event, I had 1700, but now there are almost 8000,” she said.
“I’ve created my accounts, but someone else manages them for me. It’s taken me a while to get used to these technologies.
“This sport is my life. It’s our flagship sport, and it has achieved a milestone I thought we'd never reach thanks to the internationalization. It’s cost us a great deal, and now we have to work hard so that frontón can keep growing,” stressed Claudia when asked about her sport and how it was included as a Basque pelota discipline at Lima 2019.
“It’s my passion, and it’s always been a part of my life,” said Alexia.
After their meeting, they took some time to practice and promote Para sports and to show the passion that runs through their veins. They’re an example for all generations in our country.