In an exclusive interview with Bolavip Mexico, the Deportium 2022 Olympic medalist told us how El Vasco could indirectly affect his career as a coach.
Taekwondon Oscar Salazar was not a prophet in his own land as a coach, he tried to be one outside of it. In this way, with the right to earn a living wherever there are possibilities to do so, The Olympic medalist turned the story of Mexican sport: Instead of importing foreign coaches, we export them. With a bag full of personal and foreign responsibilities, he arrived in Egypt in 2019 with the goal of placing taekwondo at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The task was not easy. He had to classify a large number of taekwondo and fight for the podium. The trust placed in him was backed by his successful career as an athlete (Athens Silver Medal 2004) and his knowledge as a coach. He accepted the challenge with great hope stuck in it. But the full support for his work has changed dramatically because of football, or rather because of Javier Aguirre.
In August 2018, Vasco took over as the Artistic Director of Los Faraones. The immediate requirement of his management was to perform well in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The process went superbly until the Round of 16. Having passed the group stage without conceding a sheet, and after achieving three victories from three matches (Uganda, Congo and Zimbabwe), Egypt fell at home to South Africa by one goal. This early exclusion collapsed the expectations placed on Aguirre, so the decision was made to expel him.
With his dismissal came a chain reaction towards foreign coaches of any discipline. The failure in the African Nations Cup was considered such an embarrassing episode that Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Nation, intervened, By demanding that the performance of non-Egyptian coaches be closely monitored. There was mistrust from that moment on.
Immediately, the gaze of the sporting and political leadership focused on Oscar Salazar for being a Mexican, a native of “El Vasco”. After he did nothing wrong, Taekwondo was put under heavy pressure to get positive results with the Egyptian Taekwondo team. The hunt for a ticket to Tokyo 2020 and the fight for a medal has turned from a sporting mission to a matter of national interest.
The President of the Republic stated that he no longer wanted to see foreigners in the national teams. Then everyone turned to me to see if I could hit the target. It was very difficult to live that moment and those experiences in a culture completely different from our own.” Salazar participated as part of his participation in Deportium 2022.
Seen as a public enemy, Salazar took the situation as a challenge he would not escape. He sought the safety of his athletes so that they would not be mentally and emotionally affected. He has protected those aspects by resorting to his strengths so that they form a team, i.e. all for one and one for all.
Stress made him a stimulant. The tension has molded into the same feeling that comes from standing on an Olympic mat in front of the entire world spectacle after a head-to-head competition or on TV. In other words, Oscar turned the ordeal of the sense of espionage into a character-building tool for his pupils.
It has succeeded! The Egyptian taekwondo team succeeded in bypassing Tokyo 2020 by winning two bronze medals; Hedaya Malak in the women’s -67kg category and Saif Issa in the -80kg category for men.
Thus, the runner’s mantle that Aguirre inherited from the taekwondo instructor was reinvented out of respect and admiration. Today, Oscar is classified as an “Egyptian hero” for giving him two medals for the African nation at the last Olympics. This merit can be further quantified by heroism because of the complexity involved in the transition between presidential intervention, the need for economic income and a culture that takes failure seriously.
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