Peleteiro: "I have to train more and dream bigger but I am happy now"

Ana Peleteiro after winning triple jump gold at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships
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Ana Peleteiro bounded out to a European-leading 14.73m in the triple jump at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

To the naked eye, the national record of 14.73m which Ana Peleteiro produced in Glasgow to win triple jump gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships earlier this month would seem to be the best moment of her career so far.

But the jump that she describes as having changed her life actually happened two years earlier at the previous European indoors in Belgrade.

In the third and last round of qualifying in the Serbia capital, Peleteiro landed at 14.20m to not only reach the final but, more significantly in the great scheme of things, break her personal best.

It was the gateway to where she is now because it meant the legend that is Cuba’s Ivan Pedroso would become her coach.

When Peleteiro reveals how it happened, she does so with big smiles and great delight because she delivered in Glasgow just like she and her coach had hoped since the autumn of 2016.

Ana Peleteiro at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships
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Ana Peleteiro at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Pedroso, the 2000 Olympic long jump champion and nine times world champion, indoors and out, became her coach after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but the story had begun three years earlier.

“He talked with me in 2013 and said: ‘Do you want to train with me?’ and I said ‘No, I am studying, I am not focussed,” recalled the exuberant and effervescent Peleteiro, who had won the 2012 world U20 title on home soil in Barcelona.

“We knew each other as he had been living in Spain and we talked a lot about the jumps, and track and field, and we were friends. 

“He became my coach after the Olympics. I called him and said, ‘Ivan, I need your help’. In 2015, I had an injury and after that I said, 'Ivan, I really need you now' but he said ‘I don’t know. I told you the same three years ago and you told me ‘No’. Now you have to work and show me that you want to train with me.

“He said he will train me if I did a personal best in the indoor season. I was like ‘Ok. I have four months to do my best.’ And I did it at the last Europeans in Belgrade.”

Ana Peleteiro on the podium after winning triple jump gold at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships
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Ana Peleteiro on the podium after winning triple jump gold at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

In the Belgrade final, Peleteiro finished fifth with 14.13m but her future plans had been secured and what an outcome.

Two years later, the Spanish national anthem – one of three occasions it was played in Glasgow – rang out as she celebrated gold, having triumphed with Pedroso watching close by.

And what a jump it was to win! in the fourth round she bounded out to 14.73m to add nine centimetres to the Spanish national record, and 18cm to her own personal best, as she made it three medals since Pedroso became her mentor, now taking gold to go alongside her world Indoor and European outdoor bronze medals from 2018.

As she left the sand after this amazing jump, she found Pedroso and they shared an embrace. It was a partnership that had finally found the top step of the podium.

“I want to be like him, but I know it is so difficult,” said Peleteiro. “I am working to that, I know I can do it and I know we are in the beginning of my runway and I know I have to train more and dream bigger but I am happy now.

  

“When I went over to him, he said ‘You are the best, I told you can do it’.”

So, what is the key to being trained by a man who has achieved so much? “He brings everything, but the most important thing is the craziness,” commented Peleteiro. “He was so crazy when he was an athlete and he would always say ‘come on, come on.’ But he is a very good person.”

Hailing originally from the small fishing port of Ribeira in Spain's north-westerly region of Galicia - where she got a civic reception serenaded by traditional Galician bagpipes, as opposed to the Scottish variety, on her return from Glasgow - she is now spends much of her time based near Madrid and obviously looking to make her mark at the IAAF World Championships in Doha at the end of the summer before finally making her Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.

“I have never been to the Olympics and these next two years are so important,” said Peleteiro. “But I just want to be healthy and stay focussed on my goals.”

After her feat in Glasgow the question also begs: with 16 European women having jumped further than 15 metres, will Peleteiro become the next member of that select club in the summer?