Pau is a beautiful city that shows all the splendor of Aquitaine in France, hot in summer and cold in winter, but which has become something of a door of salvation, as when it is trapped between the white waters, for Maialen Chourraut in elections.
The Gipuzkoan paddler who never fails, the one who finds herself at the Games, and the one who took a historic bath in the Tokyo channel this Tuesday to achieve something so difficult and with so much effort, such as a third Olympic medal In her track record, a silver to be added to the gold achieved in Rio 2016 and the bronze of London 2012, when she believed she could aspire to a better metal.
Two hours from Donostia by car is the city of Pau, where there is a channel to practice slalom, a term that specialists like more than whitewater canoeing.
Because until then Maialen had to live in La Seu d’Urgell, the only Spanish setting for this specialty, and that forced her to be far from her family, a Basque family of French descent and always very inclined to sports since her cousin Íñigo Chaurreau , who always spelled his last name differently, was a professional cyclist with four
And it was in Pau that the Tokyo silver medal began to be forged, the third for the Spanish delegation after Adriana Cerezo’s silver in taekwondo and David Valero’s bronze in mountain biking. She has always been trained by her husband, Xabi Etxaniz , who debuted as an Olympian at Barcelona 92 when slalom was included in the Games program, and then repeated at Atlanta 92.
It was a relief to her that the French stationed a canal near her home; Maialen , who had grown up next to La Concha beach and joined Club Atlético San Sebastián from a very young age, made her first international trip in 2000 to attend the Junior World Cup in Bratislava.
Since then, until now, at the age of 38, she has never stopped competing, except when her injuries have stopped her or for the minimum period of rest that she took in 2013 when she gave birth to her daughter Anne , who accompanied her in Rio. and the one that has remained in the Basque Country because of the restrictions caused by the covid. He dedicated the medal to the girl: “Wow, Anne, and all the friends, the whole family that is with her, supporting her as well, because it is hard to be so many kilometers away “.
And it is that two months after the cesarean section Maialen was already training as she had done up to two days before delivery to make it clear that sport and motherhood were not two incompatible circumstances.
European Champion in 2015, with two other continental silvers and others two silver in the specialty World Cups, one of them achieved in La Seu d’Urgell in 2009, her main sporting glory came in Rio when she was proclaimed Olympic champion.
And, little by little, overcoming the injuries, with the trips to Pau, he began to prepare for Tokyo. He entered the final, which was the first goal, knowing that the medals were difficult.
She was the fourth to start and after a fantastic, fast descent without penalties, she already placed herself with the best time she kept until the German Ricarda Funk , one of the great favorites, appeared on the scene , who snatched the gold from her. An Olympic title with posthumous tribute, as the coach of the German slalom team, Stefan Hanze , was killed in a traffic accident during the Rio Games while traveling to the Olympic village. The bronze went to the Australian Jessica Fox .
“I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it ,” Chourraut repeated in Japan , after getting off the podium, “I have suffered a lot these years, but it is a goal accomplished and more than accomplished.” And practically already a legend in the Spanish Olympic sport.
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