From school sport to the Youth Olympic Games
Pentathlon is as much a traditional sport as it is a complex one in the Olympic Movement. Present on the sport programme at the ancient Olympic Games, modern pentathlon has adapted over the years and is one of the pillars of sport when it comes to transmitting Olympic values.
All this obviously carries over to the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, where Mexican Melissa Mireles will be representing her country in the women’s division. “The school I went to for kindergarten, primary and secondary school – the Instituto Tepeyac de Cuautitlán Izcalli – was where I discovered pentathlon”, Mireles explained to buenosaires2018.com.
“Since we were little my parents brought me and my sister Mariana to swimming practice. It was at that time that the sport director suggested, first to my sister, that she train for swimming with the pentathlon team since it had a more advanced level. Later I was the one that did that, but what caught our attention the most was equestrian. My dad took us horseback riding since we were little and we loved horses. So that’s how I started my sport career 11 years ago”, she said.
In addition to swimming and equestrian, modern pentathlon in that period was completed with fencing and the combined final event, that includes running and laser shooting. However, the version for the Youth Olympic Games has been adapted for the young athletes to include swimming, fencing and Laser Run (athletics and shooting).
“Since I was a little girl one of my goals has been to participate in the Olympic Games and to be able to attend Buenos Aires 2018 was a dream that I started to have in 2014 while the Games were going on in Nanjing, specifically when I learned that I was going to have just the right age to compete”, commented Melissa, who was born in Mexico City and continues to live in the Mexican capital.
“It was a big motivator since this opportunity only comes up once in a lifetime and it fills me with happiness to be the Mexican representative in the third Youth Olympic Games”, she added.
With the dream of becoming an Olympic athlete, Mireles travelled to the U18 Pan American in Merida that had just one Olympic quota place per gender for North and Central America and the Caribbean up for grabs. “To qualify I trained abroad, specifically to improve in fencing. I trained in Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic. This was one of the contests that I enjoyed the most and in the end I won the competition, but without a doubt it was also one of the competitions where I learned the most and above all where I realised what I was capable of”, said the athlete who will represent the Mexican Olympic Committee in the Argentine capital.
In addition to her stellar performance at the Pan American, Mireles highlighted Mexico’s potential in the sport and talked about the injury she had to overcome in order to secure the Olympic ticket. “I’m happy to say that we went in with a very high level, however, two weeks before the Pan American I injured a tendon in my knee; it got really painful, even when I was jogging and that was difficult. I was treated for it by my doctor and he let me decide whether to attend or not, the same as the coaches”, she said.
“I decided to do it with the support from my parents and coaches. While I wasn’t 100% physically, I was mentally. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by incredible people who gave me their affection and confidence and never doubted me”, she added.
Since I was a little girl one of my goals has been to participate in the Olympic Games and to be able to attend Buenos Aires 2018 was a dream that I started to have in 2014 while the Games were going on in NanjingMelissa Mireles Mex
At the qualifier final, she achieved the “tricolour”, leaving Brazil with the quota place for South America: “In the end I came out in the top three in the Laser Run. Mexico did it and we won gold, silver and bronze. I have no words for the happiness I felt when I realised what I’d achieved and I’m so thankful to my friends, the Mexican sport federation, my coaches and family for being part of this dream”, she said ahead of her participation at Buenos Aires 2018.
Mireles started the last stage of her training in the hope of making history in Argentina. “I would like to win a medal for Mexico, I have the goal of doing my best competition, I mean, to have my best score in each discipline and above all enjoy it, I think that will go hand in hand with the results”, she said. “I’m really excited about how they’re organising the event. I’m ready to enjoy every moment both in and outside the competition”, she added.