Ruth Beitia Vila, despite being 33 and having announced her retirement, just got the best season of her long career as an athlete. In 2012, the Spanish high jumper became European champion in the Helsinki Championships last June and was fourth in the Olympic Games in London.
In the British capital, Ruth crossed the barrier of 2 meters, a height she had never reached in major competitions and is just 2 centimeters shy of her best performance ever: 2.02m on August 4, 2007 in San Sebastian.
This charismatic athlete, a native of the Spanish region of Cantabria, says she has great admiration for Cuba and Sotomayor is her reference…
Why did you choose high jump?
I did not choose high jump, the high jump chose me. In my training group we have learned all athletic disciplines so I stayed in the one I excelled the most.
I heard you are involved in the Government of Cantabria, so, how it is possible to combine your daily work of the sporting life with the demands of such a responsibility?
It is not at all difficult. In my last times as a jumper I’ve only trained once a day, so I work in the morning and train in the afternoon, plus it’s a great way off, from politics when I train and vice versa.
You has achieved the best season of your career (in terms of results) and announced to leave professional sports. Is that a final decision?
Uffff, that is difficult to answer right now, the truth is that I’m on vacation and my coach wants me to continue. The only thing that is clear is that for another year I will continue helping my club in the Leagues and in the Queen’s Cup in Spain.
When somebody is deciding to say goodbye, it’s impossible not to take stock of what that person has done: What moment of your career makes you the proudest?
The road … 22 years with my trainer, Ramon Torralbo, the person who taught me everything in sports.
Do you think you fail to achieve anything?
An Olympic medal, it was always my dream
No. … Best of all is not what we have achieved, but how we did it, always based on dedication and effort.
Will you devote entirely to politics?
No, I will always be linked to athletics, it is somewhat kind of an umbilical cord that I will never detach from and politics is something we have to pay attention to 24 hours, so I will keep its as of today, both at once.
Regarding your country, besides you, we do not see any jumper capable of being among the world’s best; why do you is that?
It takes time, it is also very difficult to jump over two meters. One of the bases of this situation may be linked to the tradition and passion that exists in my country for other sports specialties.
During your years in the top events, which rivals did you considered as the most competitive ones?
All … (Laughs), especially Blanca Vlasic and Anna Chicherova, we have spent many years together.
Usually people “speculate” about the relationships that are established among the athletes (beyond the rivalry), from personal experience, how could you describe them?
Correct with those of other nationalities. Possibly because language is often a barrier. But beyond the rivalry, for example, one of the most beautiful stories in the world of athletics and what I prefer is that one of my biggest rivals of always Marta Mendia (1.96) is one of my great friends, then and now. …
From your vast experience, what is the key to success in the high performance sport and to remain stable for many years?
Illusion, effort, sacrifice and enjoying what you do. Also it is important to balance body and mind.
Sometimes you hit the horizontal bar quite hard and it does not fall, while the opposite is true so many other times, what is the mystery?
I would love to know, I am one that whenever I touch it, either hard or soft, it falls.
Who do you consider the best jumpers in history?
Undoubtedly, Sotomayor (Javier) and Kostadinova (Stefka).
What about at present?
I prefer Ana Chicherova, for her class, her simplicity and her technique.
Do you know Cuba? …
Of course and I love your country and your people, especially admire how committed they are to sports.
Regarding Cuban athletes to me it is spectacular their discipline, willingness and professionalism within the tracks and their happiness and empathy outside.
I share several meetings a year with them and the relationship is amazing.
Also I was in Havana on a holiday and everything was amazing.
A great jumper and has always been my reference.
I met him when I was very small in a visit to schools in Santander, a city where I was born, I was trained as an athlete and where I have always lived. Soto was already my idol because my older brother was a high jumper too and that was the event I loved.
I remember he told me I would be a great jumper and signed me an autograph which I still have as one of my greatest treasures.
Now I know him personally and I value him more-if possible-, a great athlete, a great professional and a better person.
What about his record?
Amazing, I think I saw it on youtube a million times, the records are to be broken but this particular one will cost much time. The reason is that like Soto, only Soto can jump.
Something you want to add
I would like to thank you for the opportunity, it was a pleasure to answer these questions, and thanks especially for thinking of me. A salute to the Cuban people