Down the Blue Carpet: Episode Four with Susana Rodríguez
Is not very usual for a triathlete to be on the front cover of Time magazine. Susana Rodriguez (ESP) managed to do so not only because of her impressive career (Paralympic champion, three times world champion on the PTVI category) but because of her work as a doctor (a blind one) during the Covid pandemic. On the fourth episode of Down the Blue Carpet we sit down in Madrid with Susana Rodriguez, the undefeated PTVI para triathlete since 2019, who talks openly about what is life when you have already achieved everything you dreamed for when you were a child. After struggling with mental health issues, she is back and will try to defend her World title in Abu Dhabi Para Triathlon Championships next week.
In this episode Susana talks about her early years in the sport. “I started triathlon by chance. I had done para athletics before, and para swimming, but had never tried to ride a tandem bike. I realised that the Spanish federation was doing a duathlon championships and thought it would be a nice challenge… and I got in love with the sport. I had to do a lot of work to improve in all three disciplines, it took me a long time to learn how to race. It was not until 2013 when I started to call myself a triathlete”.
And what an outstanding career hers has been. “I am a happier person now, the sport has given me a lot of opportunities, I have met a lot of people, I have traveled the whole world, and I can not imagine my life without triathlon now”.
“Going to the Paralympics was a childhood dream for me. When I was 4 years old we had the Olympic Games in Barcelona and I thought “I want to be there”. I didn’t know Paralympic Games existed, I didn’t even know I had a disability and I was different. It was not until many years later when I found out about Paralympics and I told my family that I wanted to go. In Rio I went to the Games and it was a nice experience, but I wanted more”, she explains.
“For five years I have been thinking, every single day, about the Games in Tokyo. My goal was to be better than in Rio and Tokyo was great. but I didn’t know that life will change so much after that. The effect a Paralympic medal has is very different than a world title. I was also on the front cover of Time magazine, and this combination made me a famous person here in my country. My life was divided between training and working at the hospital, but after the Games I was invited to lots of media and sponsors activations. I did really nice things but it was also difficult, because I am a shy person. This year has taken me out of my confort zone”, she recalls.
After struggling with mental health issues and sleeping problems during the last months, she is now back, healthy and ready to go back to the blue carpet. “I have realised that I still love triathlon, so I am thinking on Paris, the World Championships, many races next year in Spain… If I keep enjoying the sport, racing and training, I will continue until Paris. But all the things I wanted in triathlon I have achieved them, so now I only race because I enjoy it”.
You can watch the full interview here and rewatch Episode 1 with Alex Yee; Episode 2 with Jelle Geens and Episode 3 with Claire Michel. And stay tuned for more episodes featuring the likes of the high-flying Flora Duffy, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Hayden Wilde and Kristian Blummenfelt, among many others.