The Olympic Games are always full of incredible moments as athletes who have trained their entire lives finally get to accomplish their dreams. Perhaps one of the most heart-warming stories from this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics is that of Donovan Carrillo. The 22-year-old from Mexico became the first to represent his country in figure skating since 1992! If that feat wasn’t enough, Carrillo also managed to break his own personal record in the men’s short program and progressed to the free skate, becoming the first Mexican to ever qualify for the free skate at the Olympics.
Although he finished on the lower end of the rankings in 22nd place, Carrillo’s accomplishments for himself and his country are massive. Coming from a country that doesn’t even have an Olympic-size ice rink, Carrillo sometimes practices at a rink in the Plaza Mayor Mall amidst other people who are there for recreational skating.
When he was 13, he had to move from Guadalajara to León with his coach Gregorio Nuñez because the rink where he was living had been shut down. Given these factors, Carrillo’s skating career has not been as traditional as his North American and European figure skating peers. Whilst others grew up having access to state-of-the-art facilities and renowned coaches as young skaters, Carrillo’s background is very humble. Yet, he has managed to earn himself a competition spot amongst the best skaters in the world.
Carrillo represents his nationality with great pride, and he showcases this through his music and costume choices. Skating in the short program to Carlos Santana, and wearing a costume by Mexican designer Edgar Lozzano, Carrillo puts his Mexican heritage front and center through his artistry. Although his scoring is far from the leaders, Carrillo has made strides for Mexican figure skating. Especially coming from a nation that often views figure skating as an unmasculine sport, Carrillo is truly breaking barriers.
Hopefully, his achievements will inspire a new generation of Mexican youth, particularly boys, to pursue skating, as it is far from a female-only sport.