(ATR) In part three of the interview with Olegario Vázquez Raña he talks about his Olympic life with Around the Rings
correspondent Miguel Hernandez.
"My main flaw? Be very strict with the truth"
In just over a year Olegario Vázquez Raña will have the opportunity to enjoy life from the Olympic stands of Tokyo 2020.
Olegario Vázquez Raña wins historic gold medal at 1975 Pan American Games in México (OVR)
The former president of the International Sport Shooting Federation says he will be there as a satisfied sportsman. “My goal was to take shooting to the level of most important Olympic sports. I think I've left it at the highest it can go,” he tells Around the Rings
“Now new people are needed for new ideas,” he says, referring to his successor from last November, new ISSF President Vladimir Lisin from Russia.
“I confess something. I often dream that I am still competing."
Tokyo 1964 ... Olegario’s best result from Tokyo, his Olympic debut, was 19th in the small caliber rifle, brother Abel finished 29th. The two brothers would go on to compete in other shooting events, with the most success at the Pan American Games.
Olegario won seven Pan Am medals.
For more than a decade he led world rankings, won medals in the Central American and Caribbean Games and in the Pan American Games. He established two world records as well as several national and continental records. But an Olympic medal would elude him after four Games.
Olegario Vazquez Rana at the 1975 Pan American Games. (OVR)
His favorite moment may have come in Mexico City at the 1975 Pan Am Games. Olegario would give his country one of the nine gold medals of the Mexico team, in addition to a world record.
"That has been my happiest moment as an athlete," he tells ATR
The truth of the relationship with his brother Mario
A year before his first Japanese Olympic experience with Abel, Olegario shared his debut in Pan American Games with his older brother, Mario. History confirms that the Vázquez Raña family has been an Olympic family.
On April 15, 1963 Olegario and Mario, both members of the national shooting team to the Pan Am Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, took part in a ceremony with Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos.
No one imagined then that brothers Olegario and Mario would write an important page in national and international Olympic sport.
Both became members of the IOC. One ascended to the presidency of the ISSF. The other became president of the Association of National Olympic Committees and the Pan American Sports Organization. But despite the common bonds between the two brothers, media reports indicated Olegario and Mario had their differences.
Olegario Vázquez Raña at the memorial service in 2015 for his brother Mario Vázquez Raña. (ATR)
“We always respect each other very much. But in sport we had totally different points of view,” Olegario tells ATR.
Mario Vazquez Raña died in 2015.
"There were some disagreements between the two of us, but we always had the affection and respect as brothers,” he says.
As an athlete Olegario competed in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976.
Of course, Munich is frozen in his memory with the attack against the Israeli athletes.
"My teammate Jesus Elizondo and I were very close to what happened," he says. "At first we thought it was a joke. But when we saw reality, we felt fear. Then, we asked permission to leave the Olympic Village and that night we slept in a hotel," he says.
“The next day, everything had returned to normal as far as it goes,” he says. “Good always wins against evil," he adds, saying the attack was "perpetrated by unbalanced people".
He also lived and suffered the Olympic boycott of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984. "I was very close to President Samaranch giving him support. I think they were resolved in the best way".
Samaranch, a great President
He personally knew four IOC presidents.
-In your opinion, who was the best?
"To Lord Killanin I had the opportunity to meet him at the IOC offices through an audience arranged by Mr. Samaranch.”
“Juan Antonio Samaranch. He was a great President for 21 years. We had a great friendship, Juan Antonio, his wife Bibis, my wife and me.
“Under his presidency we increased the number of Olympic shooting events from 7 to 15. We had a quota of 390 athletes in the Games. Of the similar Federations we are the ones that have more athletes in the Games,” he says.
Olegario Vázquez Raña with IOC President Jacques Rogge in 2003 with a painting honoring the Mexican Red Cross. (ATR)
“Jacques Rogge and his wife Anne have been great friends of the family and they remain so to this day. They are very fond of shooting.”
"I met Thomas Bach before becoming president of the ISSF. We got along very well with him and his wife Claudia. A very good president and friend of our sport,” he says.
Bach made an official visit to Mexico last September for the events of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic Games and commented that he would look "very positively" at a Mexican bid for future Olympic Games.
Olegario told ATR
that he has analyzed the possibility of a new Mexican bid with Carlos Padilla, president of the Mexican Olympic Committee. He says the possibility could be presented "from 2032".
The day he lost $1.7 billion
I could not interview Olegario Vázquez Raña without asking him to recount the day during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when he learned he had lost $1.7 billion in the global market collapse.
-How could he bear that
news while immersed in ensuring the success of the Olympic shooting tournament?
"I always separated in my mind the sport of business. A manager who handled finances accompanied
me to the Beijing Games. Every day we went to see shooting competitions. One day he wasn’t there.
"I asked my secretary about him and she told me he was at the hotel. That night he informed me that the financial situation in the United States was very bad and that I had lost a very large amount of money from my personal accounts, but he guaranteed that in a few days there would be a recovery.
"The next day, I looked for him and he had returned to the United States. I continued in Beijing as if nothing had happened. I believed in him and that he could recover everything. When the Games ended, on my return, I was surprised that the stock exchange in the United States had fallen apart but I had great support from my family.
"My son Olegario told me 'You have so many companies and that money was personal and no business was involved in those investments.'"
“I felt bad for a few days. Or many. But with the unconditional support of my family, over the months, everything returned to normal. From the beginning, in my mind I always separated being a sports manager and businessman.
And he tells me this anecdote with his usual smile on his face.
Olegario in June 2014 with King Juan Carlos of Spain and Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee. (Getty Images)
He says his main virtue was "to be a normal person, happy with what I have and not be ambitious”.
-And his main defect?
"To be very strict with the truth and to talk with people until they understand that I am right ... or they convince me that I am wrong".
His numerous decorations include the Doctor Honoris Causa of La Salle University, the Grand Cross of Civil Merit of the Spanish Government, the Olympic Order of the IOC, Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from the Kyungnam University (Republic of Korea), the Medal for his work as President of the Mexican Red Cross, Blue Cross of the ISSF, Mexican Athlete of the XX Century by the National Sports Commission and the Ministry of Education of Mexico.
At the end of 2018 he added the National Award for Sports Merit for his career and performance.
In recent years Olegario developed an intense agenda as the solitary member of the IOC in Mexico. He presided over the tributes last year for the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He led delegations for the most important ceremonies to multisport games. He has awarded pending Olympic medals to Mexican athletes.
And above all, he has played an important role in the unity within the Mexican sports movement. All of this, while still working in his office at the Angeles del Pedregal Hospital. That’s where he and his son Olegario Vázquez Aldir analyze business trends and make decisions.
And he also has time to listen to the friends of the ISSF when they call him from different parts of the world.
Sure enough, Olegario does not stop for a minute.
"To me the sport prepared me for life, for business, and family life," he says.
Reported and Written by Miguel Hernandez. Translated and Edited by Ed Hula.
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