Jon Santacana has entered the final days of preparations ahead of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games knowing they may be his last.
Spain’s three-time alpine skiing Paralympic champion admitted “the door never closes [to continue], because there is always that hope, but it is difficult. I have been competing for many years and I am a bit tired,” in an interview with noticiasdegipuzkoa.com.
“I am 37 years old and you do not feel the body as you did when you were 25. Now we have to value every bit of physical training, travel, objectives, everything has to be more controlled. And then we are always with budgetary constraints. We have a very complicated cycle [to continue].
“Going into PyeongChang we are more excited than nervous. These have been four difficult years; we are older but keep ourselves in good shape. We want to enjoy, competing and give it all.”
Santacana, guided by Miguel Galindo, finished sixth at this season’s World Cup overall rankings and third in the men’s downhill, super-G and giant slalom vision impaired standings, after claiming one silver and five bronze.
Due to weather conditions, many World Cups suffered cancellations and therefore impacted in the skiers’ preparations. “It has been a complicated winter because of the weather,” he said.
“But it has been the same for everyone and we will go into PyeongChang under the same conditions. This sport is like this and this year we had bad luck.”
Santacana made his Paralympic debut at Salt Lake City 2002, winning one gold and two bronze. Four years later, he had to withdraw from Torino 2006 due to a tibia and fibula fracture two months before the Winter Paralympics kicked off.
He came back in full form for Vancouver 2010, where he sealed one gold and two silvers. Santacana added another gold and a silver to his haul at Sochi 2014.
With many major competitions under his belt, the seven-time world champion is also a role model for young Para athletes. “If there is a kid with impairment who wants to try a sport, I would tell him not to hesitate and do it.
“That first step is the most difficult one, but you need the will to do it. And we are here to give them courage.”
The Paralympic Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9-18 March. Tickets can be purchased here.