The Spanish athlete Blanca Manchón has just been proclaimed for the sixth time windsurfing world champion. Former Olympian athlete, queen of windsurf and recently mother, Blanca reveals the secrets of a training to the height of a championship.
“Eat healthy and rest” are the premises by which any training should starts, according to Blanca. “On the pillars of a healthy life, you can grow as an athlete as your strength improves to train more and better. And therefore you do better in competition. The physical strength in windsurfing will not make you win a competition but it can make you lose. From there is also very important to get familiar with the equipment and the technique you will use in every competition”, says the athlete.
Blanca began training as a minor in the port of Cadiz, Spain, with the help of her parents, who are also windsurfing professionals. The family used various technologies to fine tune their material with indicators of winds, tides and sediments. Nowadays, technology has helped a lot to speed up this process and Blanca recognises that she uses several apps integrated in her smartphone to predict the weather conditions and to prepare the training accordingly.
“We use both mobile apps and small weather stations integrated in the boards to make sure that we know the precise weather conditions. Trying to anticipate the behaviour of the wind can be decisive in the course of a race”; says Blanca.
Training not only starts with the sail set, though, the exercises that Blanca does every day include running, swimming, cycling and stretching on balls in balance to improve her stability. Like any other competitor, Blanca has suffered several injuries. The most severe ones are in the shoulder, so she has to deal with specific exercises to prevent injuries. “In dry training I always use functional assessment systems to measure my workout and to avoid muscular asymmetries”; reveals Blanca.
Blanca’s career started when she was a child. She won her first world title for children in 2000 competing in Cádiz. After that, she won two other world titles and several championships that headed her to the Olympic games of Athens, where she participated being only 17. Between that first adventure of the elite and the next one that she hopes to culminate in the Olympic games of Tokio, there is a whole life of races. Full of curiosity, we asked her about how she has managed success at different ages.
“I spent a few years maybe too obsessed with the Olympic event and without taking into account that it is only once every 4 years”
“I’ve gone through several emotional stages regarding the competition. I lived the Olympic Games without being aware that I represented a country and that there were many people pending on my performance. I was only 17 years old and I did not value it as I do now. After that I spent a few years maybe too obsessed with the Olympic event and without taking into account that it is only once every 4 years, and that in between there are many other competitions to enjoy, says Blanca.
“Now I am at the right point of maturity to value the Olympic Games as they deserve, but knowing how to enjoy the 4 years that I have to take them. Enjoying therefore of the way and not only of the objective to obtain it”; says the athlete. “To me world championships are the ones that I enjoy the most because it is where there is more competition”, says Blanca.
Her last world championship, the sixth of her titles, was conquered last July in Salou, competing with a borrowed sail and paying by herself the particular costs for training, accommodation and travel. It seems incredible that being a world champion goes through economic hardships, however part of her job is to get good relationships with sponsors who support her in every race.
In her case, getting pregnant was crucial for her sponsors to lose faith in her work and finish all the economic support she was receiving for years. Fortunately, she showed to the world again that she is a champion and she was capable to win just 7 months after giving birth.
“It seems impossible, until it is achieved”; she says. “This is the phrase I always keep in mind when things get complicated and seem so difficult to get. When I was without sponsors I had a very sad feeling of abandonment, but my team supported me and encouraged me to get a good sporting result again. They have always believed that as soon as I showed that I was up again, the supports would reappear. And so it seems to happen”, she says.
Having seen amazing landscapes while competing, we asked Blanca which one she enjoyed the most, perhaps we can get ideas for our next holidays! “I would very much like to spend a vacation in New Zealand because the times I have gone have been to compete and I have not been able to visit anything. Also, I would definitely repeat vacation in Barbados. I went with my husband to surf and rest for 10 days and we fell in love with the island”, says Blanca.