Donovan Carrillo: from skating in shopping malls to joining the elite of the Winter Olympics

Mexican skater Donovan Carrillo, during the world championship in 2021.
Mexican skater Donovan Carrillo, during the world championship in 2021.Natalia Fedosenko (Natalia Fedosenko/TASS)

At 16, Donovan Carrillo rose to fame abruptly. It wasn’t because of his graceful movements on the ice rink, it was because of homophobia that he too bordered on ignorant. Carrillo, a Mexican skater, received the worst face of social networks for competing with the song of until i met you of John Gabriel. The young man wanted to honor his mother, a faithful listener to the musician, in 2016. They told him that this was not manly, that he was “a gay” and an artillery of insults without knowing him. The Mexican athlete gave a lesson in tolerance. “It infuriates me that they see the word gay as a mockery or an insult to my effort,” he wrote in those years. The event was an engine for the slender athlete not to give up getting into the Winter Olympics. In 2022 he is about to debut in one.

Carrillo (Zapopan, Jalisco, 22 years old) did not give up. Not even for the fact that in Mexico there are no high-performance facilities dedicated to ice skaters. The young man, empowered by his talent and the perseverance of his parents, began to train on the frozen slopes of shopping malls. At the age of 12 he left Guadalajara to move to León, Guanajuato, to live alone and train. “My visits with him were every week. Every time I saw him on the track, he hugged me and cried. We both cried. He returned to me crying on the bus, he knew he needed me because he was still a child, ”Diana Suazo, the athlete’s mother, told EL PAÍS. On the ice of the ICE Sport Center arena, Carillo trained even when the rink was open to the general public, that is, he had to practice his routines while there were groups of friends trying not to lose his balance.

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The Mexican skater grew up in a family where sport is almost a religion. His parents are Physical Education teachers and encouraged his four children to practice some discipline. Carrillo practiced diving and gymnastics before making the leap to the ice. “The monthly payments were expensive, we paid pesos for each Donovan and his sister Dafne, in addition to the classes that charged 250 per hour,” says Diana Suazo. “We knock on doors like you have no idea. We dedicated ourselves to going to factories, companies or sports complexes to seek support. They told me they couldn’t support it because it wasn’t a competitive sport in Mexico,” she adds.

“There have always been homophobic comments against my son. There are people who don’t have the culture of sports, they don’t understand figure skating,” his father, Adolfo Daniel Carrillo, told this newspaper in 2016. “There were people who questioned us: Why do you take your son to a girls’ sport? ? To foolish words, deaf ears. We had to talk to Donovan to tell him that everyone does what he likes, ”says the mother.

The adrenaline of having blades on his feet and sliding on the ice at full speed, without losing his balance, bewitched the young man. Behind the boom of 2016 with hints of Juan Gabriel, Carrillo fought to get into the Winter Olympics. “I give so many thanks to Juan Gabriel, my idol, who helped us in this way with his song,” says Mrs. Suazo. In April 2021 she achieved her place in elite competition after competing at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. She finished in 20th place, pure gold for a country that doesn’t specialize in winter sports. Mexico hadn’t had a skater at a Games in more than 30 years.

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Carrillo, during one of his presentations at the World Championship in Sweden, in March 2021.
Carrillo, during one of his presentations at the World Championship in Sweden, in March 2021.Linnea Rheborg (Getty Images)

Carrillo’s hallmark is wearing bright competition suits and, especially, with dedication to Mexico. “I always try to highlight the Mexican culture,” she said in an interview for Olympics. From charro to a whole wardrobe to honor the Mexican danzones. For your competition, in short program, you will use Black Magic Woman by Carlos Santana. For your free program you will have Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps by Daniel Boaventura and Carlos Rivera, sway by Dean Martin and Maria by Ricky Martin. “Being my first Games, what I want to bring is experience as an athlete, having the opportunity to compete in the highest level of competitions is something that marks you and, therefore, my main objective is to achieve my best presentations,” Carrillo said. to the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (CONADE). He is joined by Jonathan Soto, cross-country skier; Sarah Schleper and Rodolfo Dickson, in alpine skiing, to represent Mexico in Beijing.

Carrillo boasts a photograph on his Instagram with Javier Fernández, the Spanish skater who won the World Cup in 2015 and 2016, one of his greatest references. “It is planned to do a program with high difficulty. In practice we have had good results, at this point it is a matter of just doing our job, being an individual sport, everything depends on oneself and not on what others do”, said Carrillo, who traveled to Europe for his preparation.

The Mexican, clad in a uniform that boasts the tradition of the Day of the Dead, was the flag bearer of his country for the competitions in China. Pandemic restrictions prevented the family from accompanying the skater. The stability of his ankles and the power of his legs, in addition to his agility, want to dazzle in Beijing. Donovan Carrillo, the boy from the country without ice, will take the stage.

Donovan Carrillo competition schedule

Donovan Carrillo will compete in the short program on February 8 at 9:30 a.m. (local time), Monday, February 7, 7:30 p.m. (Central Mexico time). To advance to the next round he must enter the top 24 skaters. The long program will take place on February 10 at 9:30 a.m. (local time), 7:30 p.m. Central Mexico.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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