Published July 22, 2012
Despite the fact that at age 41 he will compete in his fourth and final Olympics, Spanish water polo player Ivan Perez said that he still feels "the nervousness of that first time" just before he travels to London for the 2012 Summer Games.
Born in Cuba in 1971 and a Spanish national, the 6 foot 5 inch, 220-pound giant with the broad smile has a hard time coming to grips with the fact that his retirement is near. He also has a problem expressing himself when asked about how he is dealing with participating in his last Games.
"Perhaps these could be my last (Games) ... But, no! Really, it's my last competition as an active athlete, so I have to put all the meat on the grill," he said.
His first Games - in Sydney in 2000 - seem a long time ago, and it was then that the team had a bittersweet experience, coming in fourth and missing garnering a bronze medal, although four years before the Spanish squad had taken the gold at the Atlanta Games.
After that, Perez accompanied the team to Athens and Beijing and now he will be on hand at the London Games, where he hopes to help secure the top medal the team has tried for for so long without success.
"We're at a good spot in terms of ability. We ... produced good results in competitions during the preparation, and I think that the team is at an optimum point, with the necessary experience to face these Games with guarantees. That accumulation of things makes us a dangerous team," the player said.
"I'm coming (here) with desire," he said. "When I'm in the pool, or even now, I'm nervous like that first time! But being a veteran, perhaps a little less so than the others, certainly."
"For the rest, perhaps it won't be their last competition, but they know that they've just qualified for these Games. Not for Rio (de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympics), but for these. They don't know if there'll be another chance, which makes the team go out there with desire and be a dangerous team." EFE