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Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Goes for Gold in Toronto 2015

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Goes for Gold in Toronto 2015

Posted by Sara Bello on March 02, 2015

Colombia looks forward to taking a gold bath in Toronto and one of the country’s aces is Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, the squash player that is going to stand for the gold medal he won in Guadalajara 2011. PanamericanWorld sat down with the medalist and learned details on his professional career.

Miguel Ángel was born among sportspeople. When it comes to talking about squash in Colombia, his father’s name, Ángel Mesías, necessarily comes up as he was the national champion for over a decade. Since he was three years old he was already playing with a racket, although it was bigger than him. Five years later he got his first national title and, at the age of 10, he joined Colombia’s national team. His first international victory took place in Canada.

“When I was 10 I used to combine both studies and sport, I didn’t train, I played for fun after school, and I wasn’t sure about playing as a professional.”

The support provided by his family has played a leading role in his career and sport has always been a key element in his life: “I have a sports-related family and I was always practicing sports: I played soccer at school, I was a Ping-Pong champion, I tried all disciplines, but I always loved squash”.

The results were there and the motivation to devote his time to play squash was clear for this Bogota-born sportsman that, at the age of 15, told his parents that “he wanted to play at international level”, so his professional career kicked off when he was 19.

After school he decided to go to Toronto in order to improve his English language skills, so he lived there for six months. When he returned to Colombia, he went to college and studied International Advertising, but he had to quit in the second semester “because I wanted to have results at sports level, so I couldn’t be studying and training at the same time.”

And that’s precisely Miguel Ángel’s biggest sacrifice to date in an effort to make his dream come true: be ranked within the world top-ten. Nowadays, with 35 finals and 26 titles, looking at the past and reviewing the achievements seem to be unreal, but it has been all about discipline, perseverance, training and mind work.

He has left behind those days of when he had to fly 36 hours to go to Egypt or Kuwait and get eliminated in the first round, which sometimes discourages sportspeople, especially when they have to pay for their accommodation. That was the case of Colombia’s number one.

“Despite those difficulties, I was sure that it was all part of the process, I you don’t lose you’ll ever win. Those experiences have helped me be where I am right now. I was always establishing short, middle and long term goals.”

As for accomplished objectives, this 29-year-old Colombian has not only made his dream come true, but he did it even sooner. Miguel Ángel ranks sixth in the world, right at the doors of the Top 5.

“That interest in reaching the highest position is not easy. You can win tournaments and go one or two positions up, but you have to go to semifinals and Grand Slam tournaments.”

Defeating the world champion and conquering Detroit made our sportsman rethink his goals and go for them.

He admires Roger Federer because of his talent, class, serenity and attitude on the court: “I’m a patient player and I like taking such players as Federer as examples, because you learn how to behave at the court and control your mind in difficult times.”

2015 Toronto is this year’s objective. Championing the gold medal won in 2011 Guadalajara, “obviously, everybody is going to try to beat me this year and winning two gold medals every four years is a hard task, but I feel great, this is my best moment. I know that I’m playing better than four years ago, I’m a different person. I’ll face three strong rivals, not only the Mexican included among the top-50 of the world ranking, but a world junior champion from Peru, Diego Elia.”

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez will soon return to Toronto, a city that brings good memories to his mind, and he’ll do his best to get the gold again. Colombia’s number one squash player wants his sport to be considered Olympic by 2020, so he can make the most of the finest stage of squash professionals: when they are 29 - 33 years old.

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