While other kids were playing soccer, young Donovan Carrillo had other dreams. Despite living in the warm and temperate climate of Mexico, Carrillo had a singular vision of grabbing gold at the Winter Olympics.
donovan carrillo has already accomplished so much in his olympic debut!!! #Olympics#FigureSkatingpic.twitter.com/YvQsvhGuQN
— ️️dani (@goIdenwaItz) February 8, 2022
And now, win or lose, this passionate figure skater has already become a huge success story at the Beijing Winter Games, becoming the first Mexican to advance to the Olympic free skate final event.
“I always wanted to be at the Olympics,” Carrillo told NBC after his performance Tuesday. “I used to talk about this dream with people. They were always laughing or telling me that it was impossible for a Mexican to qualify.”
In addition to dealing with the fact that Mexico has no competitive winter sports leagues, Carrillo was often called “a girl” for his interest in figure skating, telling the Associated Press that “they sometimes even think that to practice an artistic sport, it’s going to affect your (sexual) preferences as a person. I never thought that. I think that’s one of the reasons of why we don’t have many male skaters in my country.”
Donovan Carrillo, who practices in a shopping mall ice rink, is the first skater from Mexico to qualify for the Olympic free skate. 🥰 pic.twitter.com/qZFBl4LVYr— Billy B (@billyburke87) February 8, 2022
Throughout his pursuit, Carrillo never let the naysaying keep him down. Instead, he became more resourceful, training alongside girls and practicing in the ice rinks of shopping malls. Imagine having to perfect your pirouette while dodging families and amateur hockey players.
Hard work and determination paid off, because Carillo found himself in Beijing, bearing the flag of Mexico at the opening ceremony.
Carrillo’s entire Olympic debut has been an homage to his heritage: blades displaying the green, white and red color of the Mexican flag, a sparkling black and gold costume designed by Mexican fashion designer Edgar Lozzano, and using music from his father’s favorite band, Santana.
“It’s something that I always try to do with my performance, to involve the Mexican culture,” Carrillo told AP.
Donovan Carrillo is the first Mexican in over 30 years to represent Mexico in ice skating at the Winter Olympics LETS GOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/75w5UTOf6K— Estefanía (@estyledesma) February 8, 2022
Fast forward to Tuesday (Feb 8), and Carrillo delivered a stunning, career-best, history-making performance in the short program, nailing the quad toe loop and landing an insane triple axel.
The score of 79.69 takes Carrillo to the longer free skate competition, a never-before seen feat from his country, making the 22-year-old athlete Mexico's most successful figure skater in history.
Carrillo might have been pressed with overwhelming obstacles, but he proved to the world that dreams are worth pursuing.
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