As people around the world celebrate Cinco de Mayo, there are many Mexican Olympians worth remembering on this day. However, one of the most recent stars to have graced the Olympic stage is also one of the most important, as figure skater Donovan Carrillo opened the doors for aspiring winter athletes in his country through his participation at Beijing 2022.
Read on to see why his time at the Games had such an impact on Mexican sports and five reasons why this star is shining so brightly.
He made history for Mexico
At Beijing 2022, Donovan Carillo became the first figure skater from Mexico to take part in the Games in 30 years, as he wrote a new and improved chapter in his country's Olympic history.
In the People's Republic of China, Carillo became the first-ever Mexican to qualify for the Olympic free skate competition. He also achieved results that exceeded his expectations, with a personal best of 79.69 in the short program and 138.44 in the free program, leaving him with an impressive total of 218.13 points.
His humble roots
Carillo’s path to the Olympics was featured in the Olympic Channel Original Series Winter Tracks. There he explained how he trained in an ice rink in a shopping centre and spoke about all the sacrifices he made to achieve his figure skating dream - including being far away from his family and having to overcome doubts and criticism.
His efforts made him a role model for many as he personified the message, ‘nothing is impossible.’
“I’d like to tell [children in Mexico] that I was told many times that I was not going to achieve anything in figure skating,” he told Olympics.com.
"That it was crazy to even try and that the most I could hope for in international competition was to come in last place.
“In Beijing, I have shown that we Mexicans have a lot to give in sports, including figure skating and winter sports. For all those children who have been told that it is crazy to even try, I would like to tell them to take those words as their main motivation and show them that it can be done.
"Of course it will not be easy, because we face some adverse situations that perhaps other countries don’t experience. But far from afflicting ourselves with the situations that each one of us has to live through, we have to motivate ourselves, we have to believe in ourselves and show ourselves how it can be done."
Representing Mexico in everything
Carillo has come to be known for the manner in which he represents his country Mexico with the costumes and music he uses on the ice.
At Beijing 2022, he went further by flying the flag for the whole of Latin America. In the free program, he skated to a remix of songs that included 'Perhaps' by Carlos Rivera and Diego Boaventura; ‘María’ by Ricky Martin; and 'Bailar' by Elvis Crespo.
"Bringing Latin music to the rink and showing it to the whole world is something that I am proud of. It motivates me to give my best," he said.
He has a magnetic charisma
One of the things that makes Carillo so easy to relate to is his smile. The young skater has a charisma that shows itself both inside and outside the ice rink.
But this charisma doesn’t only come from his optimism but also how genuine he is. For example, when he spoke about how he got his start in figure skating because he was in love with a girl, or that watching TV series until the early hours is one of his secret vices.
He has a bright future
Although he was unable to compete in the 2022 World Championships that followed the Olympics due to equipment issues, Carrillo still has great things in his sights.
"I want to have another chance to represent my country at the Olympics, in Milano Cortina 2026. I am very motivated by this Olympic experience and I don't want it to finish,” he explained after his final performance at Beijing 2022. “When I finished the short and the free programs, I didn't want to get out of the rink. I wanted to keep dreaming and living the Olympic dream."
His coach, Gregorio Nuñez, also predicts great things for his pupil in the future. "We set the limits and Donovan always pushes his limits. We both think he has great potential, more to give and that he is going to achieve great things in this sport and within the next four years," he said.