Never count out someone with a dream.
That’s what Donovan Carrillo is proving, just by stepping onto Olympic ice on Tuesday (8 February) during the men’s short program at the Capital Indoor Stadium at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
He’s the first Mexican figure skater to compete at in the Games in 30 years, and the first ever to advance to the free skate.
"Many people told me during the beginning of my career that this was a crazy dream,” Carrillo said after earning a score of 79.69 for his short program. “People were always laughing or telling me it wasn't possible for a Mexican to qualify."
The road to Beijing has been far from easy – from finding practice facilities to dealing with finances, he and his family have made sacrifice after sacrifice to makes the Games.
He famously trains in a shopping centre rink during public sessions, with his mother saying there were times they could barely afford to pay for his lessons.
"For us, the most difficult thing was our finances. We had to consider the option of withdrawing the kids from skating for a month because, as I would tell Goyo [Gregorio Núñez, Donovan's coach], we couldn't afford the ice skating lessons," remembers Carrillo's mother, Diana.
Carrillo’s journey to the Olympic Games is featured in the Olympic Channel original series ‘Winter Tracks.’
"I wanted to keep skating and living the Olympic dream"
The 22-year-old, who has spoken of being inspired by Spain's Olympic medallist and double world champion Javier Fernandez, reflected on those struggles on Tuesday.
"It's challenging, I'm not lying. But instead of regretting and thinking of what I don't have, I always try to work with what I have,” said Carrillo. "That's key for me being here. It's better to focus on what you have and try to exploit that and live the dream."
His dream came together in the short program as he successfully landed a quadruple toe loop, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination in a program set to ‘Black Magic Woman’ and ‘Shake It’ by Santana.
“My cherry on the cake was the quadruple toe loop. We've been working with quads for maybe two years and it's really hard to establish and make it more comfortable,” Carrillo explained. "I was doing a (quad) Salchow at the beginning of the season but it was kind of not consistent, so we decided to go with the toe and I think it was the best decision we made. That was the best part of my program."
With his hands on his heart as he skated off, Carrillo found the camera near the boards and said, “This is for my family and for all Mexico.”
Of his time on Olympic ice, he said, “I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep skating and living the Olympic dream."
Carrillo hopes to inspire his country
Beijing was never about gold, silver, or bronze for Carrillo, who finished 19th in the short program, but he hopes his presence at these Games will help turn Mexico into a skating nation.
“I also hope during these Games, more boys and girls from my country will be inspired and find my story as a motivation for them to look for their dreams, dare to try figure skating because maybe they can find their passion in it as I found it," he said.
After all, it’s hard to stop someone with passion and a dream, and Carrillo is proof enough of that.
“When we work very hard, when we are disciplined, and when we want something, we can achieve it.” - Donovan Carrillo