Roberto reached the pinnacle of his Olympic bid journey. With his wife and daughter at his side, he arrived in Vancouver, British Colombia checking in as Peru’s first every Winter Olympian. The fifteen kilometer cross country ski race was just days after the Opening Ceremonies. Snow conditions were poor, requiring numerous training runs to assess the snow conditions, the course and prepare his equipment accordingly. During one training run, on a fast downhill section, Roberto crashed and dislocated his shoulder. It was an emotionally charged time filled with excitement, stress and nerves.
Here is Roberto’s recollection of his Olympic experience:
At the time of our meeting, Roberto was unsure of attempting a second Olympic bid. The question has now been answered. A year ago, after much needed rest and reassessment, he made the decision to pursue qualification for the 2014 Winter Olympics Sochi games. Having more experience, support from the Peruvian Olympic Committee and less personal pressure, the qualification process was much easier. In September, Roberto successfully completed his bid and will be competing in Sochi in February, 2014.
I had lunch with Roberto today and learned more about the new pathways that his 2007 Olympic dream has created. He is excited to be working with the Peruvian National Olympic Committee (NOC) to foster the next generation of Peruvian Winter Olympians. He has discovered and began work with youth living at 4,000 meters in the Andes. Every day, the children go to school 1,500m below their town. Because of the altitude, fitness and endurance levels, these children have the characteristics to become top level athletes. Roberto shared that the youth are amazed to learn he is an Olympian and then, when he tries to explain cross country skiing to them they cannot even imagine the sport because they have never seen snow. Roberto says these kids are incredible runners and have great potential. They will learn to ski with dry land equipment (skis on wheels) provided by the NOC. He is excited by their potential to become future Olympians but he is even more motivated to work with the Andean youth because the Peruvian NOC will provide academic scholarships and opportunities for the children to travel outside of Peru a few times a year to gain experience skiing on snow.
I am positive Roberto never imagined the impact his 2007 Olympic dream could have on himself, his family and his birth country. I am reminded by a quote I once heard Seattleite Tom Skerritt share, “Good things happen by planting a small seed.” From his dream, hard work, love of people and his community, Roberto is impacting the world. I am honored to know and be inspired by Roberto Carcelen. He is a humble man whose passion, integrity, hard work and determination continues to nurture the small seed that undoubtedly will be an orchard continuing to do “good things”. I look forward to watching him compete in Sochi and follow his incredible story.