Emiliano Lasa spoke exclusively with ESPN and took stock of his participation in the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished 13th in the long jump competition. The Uruguayan athlete said that although he was not satisfied with the final result, he managed to meet the goal of getting to compete after having overcome several difficulties, including an operation that almost left him out of the most anticipated contest.
Regarding his participation in the Games, Lasa said that he was “I am happy to have been there, to have been able to arrive, because if it had been in 2020 I would not have been able to compete because I went through surgery and they were not going to give me the times. The pandemic helped, in that sense, but afterwards the qualifying stage became very difficult for everyone in South America, because the competitions that score points are in Europe and it was very difficult to travel. Luckily it was possible to get there ”.
Regarding his performance, Emiliano assured that “although the preparation was very difficult and there were many limitations, I was not satisfied with the result. I was able to arrive well and I think I could have entered the final, it was seen that I was at that level, I was only one centimeter from tenth place. I would have loved to get there, because I have no doubt that it would have gone well for me. But I am happy to have been there once again, among the best in the world, and after having overcome the injury. Now we are thinking about the World Cup next year and the Paris Games”.
A stress fracture in the tibia almost prevented him from participating in Tokyo. In fact, if the pandemic had not forced competition to be postponed, it would not have been able to say present. “If they were done in 2020, it would not come, my operation was in February and in March the decision was made that was already coming, which was the postponement of the Olympic Games. My idea was always to recover well, but it took a little longer than expected, and that’s why the postponement helped me ”.
Lasa also referred to how stressful preparing to compete in the Olympic Games in a pandemic was, not only because of the restriction of mobility but also because of the constant risk of a possible contagion that would leave him out of the contest. “It was very stressful, and that gave me great peace of mind after I was able to compete. I felt that I was not enjoying it because of all the stress we were going through, especially to be able to go to competitions, travel, preparation. The month before the Games I was training only in Spain because my coach, who is Brazilian, could not enter Europe from Brazil. I could go through Uruguay and with a lot of paperwork involved. To this is added the care so as not to catch it, because if you did catch it, you no longer went to Tokyo. “
The Uruguayan spoke about the particularity of competing in empty stadiums, in one of the branches that moves the most public during the Games. “The athletic stadiums are always full and this was unusual. Obviously, for an athlete, medals and marks are worth the same and when competing you are focused on doing well and competing in the best way, but it was something different and that was what it felt like. Also at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, which is always a packed stadium with a great atmosphere. There you realized that they were atypical Games ”.
Something that the athletes had to adapt to during their stay in Tokyo was the use of the Ocha App, which constantly monitored the protagonists of the Games to the exposure of the covid-19. “I already removed it and removed it from my head. Since we arrived at the airport in Japan they asked us a thousand times, filling out a thousand health forms, as soon as we got on the plane back I eliminated it ”.
The Uruguayan jumper praised the performance of Italy, the great revelation of the Olympic Games in terms of athletics, and revealed that the winner of the 100 meter sprint, Michael Jacobs, had previously competed with him. “It was a tremendous bell of athletics in Italy, I didn’t expect it. Without a doubt that the 100 meters too, because Jacobs, the gold medal winner, was a long jump colleague of mine and I was winning. He was already doing 100-meter tests back then too, but he wasn’t as good as he is now. Italy surprised us, it is seen that they did a great previous job, one imagined the United States, Jamaica and some South Africans as protagonists. Those are the things that the Olympic Games have, they are special and the athletes have much more pressure than usual, it is a different competition ”.
Asked about how he felt at the time of competing looking to qualify for the final series, Lasa said that “I previously felt very good, especially in the warm-up. I was very well physically, but what I needed was to refine a little more in the technical part since I had done the last stage of the preparation without my coach, and that I supplied a little based on my experience, but there are details that corrects a coach. I was improving them with the running of the competition, I’m sure I was there for more, and that is why I was left with some regret, because I know that if I qualified for the final it would be something else. I only needed one centimeter, but also something particular happened, and that was that my series jumped before the other, so the other athletes already knew how much they had to jump to qualify. When I made my third jump I was 7th and I was qualifying, you jump calmer ”.
The athlete referred to his friendship with Diego Lugano and Luis Suárez: “I have known Diego for years in San Pablo, he has always been very aware of me and we have built a very good relationship. He is well above the athletes in general, he even had the intention of going to support us in Tokyo, but it did not happen because of the pandemic. Suárez was always a sports reference at the national level, I always said that I would love to meet him and I met him a few years ago in Barcelona. He was always available, I went to see him once playing in Barcelona and he invited me to have some dunks, I went to see him at practice, we talked a bit. He is a great person, a tremendous athlete who must be highly valued ”.
Lasa spoke about his link with Peñarol, an institution that he joined in recent months in view of his Olympic preparation: “Now I compete for Peñarol. We made a contract at the beginning of the year and in the competitions that I participate in Uruguay and in Brazil I do it representing the club. It was at a very important moment for me, when I was stopped for my surgery, without competences and many unknowns. They came closer, they showed interest in supporting me, thinking about athletics and its professionalization, I think it is a very important step ”.
Regarding the elite athletes he met in the Olympic Village, he said that “Djokovic was around, who was in our own village, with some players from the Brazilian soccer team. Undoubtedly, it is something incredible to be in a mini city with the best athletes in the world ”.
Finally, Emiliano Lasa spoke about what lies ahead: “Now I am going to Italy to compete in a meeting on August 31, on September 4 in Brussels I compete for the Diamond League for points for the Oregon World Cup, and with the possibility of entering the final of the Diamond League. The last one would be in Switzerland on September 14, a World Challenge Gold, one of the best, to close the 2021 season for what will be next year ”.