STEFANO PESCHIERA: “I'VE BEEN FOCUSING ON WINNING THE GOLD FOR A YEAR”
The Peruvian flag bearer started competing for the gold medal in laser standard sailing and revealed his pre-competition lucky ritual to reach the top of the podium at Lima 2019.
He has been competing at the highest level of sailing since he was 18, and every season entails a bigger challenge for his sporting career. For Stefano Peschiera, this year's challenge is to win the gold medal at the Pan American Games and, of course, to experience the magic of singing Peru’s national anthem at the top of the podium.
Peschiera is willing to make this dream come true, inspired by the courage of his grandfather, who encouraged him to take up sailing and will follow his journey from heaven. The Peruvian flag bearer has already qualified for Tokyo 2020; however, he follows a strict and exhausting training routine. Today, he started the 10-race sequence in Paracas, to end on August 9 with the final. He talked about his goals with Lima 2019.
How do you manage to remain at the best competitive level?
To achieve the best performance, you have to go for more. I’m like an addict when it comes to setting myself new, more challenging goals, and train hard to achieve them. The discipline and sacrifice required are huge. That’s why I don’t usually compete in Peru because I keep pushing myself in world circuit championships.
What does it take to win a medal in Lima 2019?
There are many uncontrollable natural variables such as the wind, clouds, the sea current, waves, and storms. The strategy consists of gathering data to predict wind changes or the direction of ocean currents to be faster at competitions. The rest depends on the sailor’s skills, their talent to adapt to sudden wind changes, and their preparation to endure the physical demand.
What conditions do you expect in Paracas?
Paracas is easier to read, though actually it’s quite windy, which makes it a horse race. We all start and whoever gets on first takes the lead. But you have also to make sure nobody passes you. All this while sailing as your heart beats 187 times per minute. It’s like playing chess, but running.
What made you change your mind about wanting to leave it all after Rio 2016?
It was tough because I went to my first Olympic Games with high expectations, knowing I had the potential even though my training was different since I was still at university. If you aren’t at the same level as the other competitors, it shows. Besides, not reaching the goal, after so much pressure and pushing myself so hard, led me to that hasty decision.
Who helped you think it over?
I didn’t sail for six months after Rio 2016, and I took the time to finish university. Then my family persuaded me to go back since sailing flows through my veins. My grandfather used to take me sailing to Ancon when I was a child. That was useful because I had a great first competition, without that much pressure, and that motivated me to get ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I can deal with that now, but it shocked me when I started and that affected the result of my competitions.
You grandfather must be really proud of you from where he is now.
I feel him watching over me from heaven. He passed away in 2008, just before the Optimist South American Championship in Paracas. I had to go back to Lima to say goodbye. I went back to the competition sad but really driven to win the teams tournament. I really appreciate what my grandfather did for me. I have a picture of him and my grandmother in my life jacket every time I compete. In every race, when I am about to give up, I imagine they are cheering on me, telling me not to give up. I feel connected with them.
How unique is it to participate in the Pan American Games in Peru?
I participated in Toronto 2015 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but I have never taken part in any similar competitions in Peru. In fact, I don't remember much about the Olympic Games but now in Lima, it'll be impossible to explain the experience. I'm constantly preparing to compete, but in the last year I've only focused on going for gold in Paracas.
SAILING AT LIMA 2019
In addition to Stefano Peschiera, Peru will be represented at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games by Alessio Botteri, Matías Panizzo, Renzo Sanguineti, Francesco Puliatti, María Belén Bazo, Paloma Schmidt, Diana Tudela, María Pía van Oordt and Jean Paul de Trazegnies.
The sailing competition will take place at the Yacht Club Peruano in Paracas, from August 3 to 11. Nine events will take place, including three men's competitions (Laser standard, 49er and RS:X), three women's (Laser radial, RS:X and 49er FX), two open (Sunfish and Formula Kite) and three mixed (Snipe, Nacra 17 and Lightning).
The races will take place around a course marked by colored buoys placed by the race committee. The orientation of the course will be set up so that the first leg of the race will be to windward (except Formula Kite, which will have a reach start), with the starting line at right angles to the wind.
Paracas Bay is considered the best location for sailing races due to the wind that blows over the seaside during certain hours of the afternoon, which enables boats to reach high speeds. The competition zone comprises an aquatic space of a minimum length of 35,000 square meters, not affected by currents.