At 26, Marcela Torres is finally able to compete internationally for Sweden, making her eligible for next year’s Olympic Games just in the nick of time. To celebrate? She won a national title, beating out several young Swedes at their championship meet earlier this month.
We talked to the gymnast who moved from Argentina three years ago to be with her boyfriend but then found a road to success in her sport as well.
Can you tell us a little about your decision to move from Argentina to Sweden?
My decision was for love. I met my Swedish boyfriend Karl in 2008 in Argentina and decided that ours was forever. So in January 2012 I moved to Sweden.
What was the biggest change you had to get used to, either in your personal life or your gym life?
I personally became more independent and determined. If I want something, I work hard for it. Argentina and Sweden have many differences, but I have not had any problems with adapting. With gymnastics, there were big changes when I began training with Staffan Söderberg. He is an excellent coach and I’ve learned a lot with him. The process to get to where I am now was very difficult and took up many hours of training and sacrifice
How did you find a gym or coach in Sweden?
I met a woman in 2011 when I went on vacation to Sweden. Before I finally moved, I contacted her and asked for help to get a gym in Stockholm. At the time, her daughter trained at Top Gymnastics Stockholm, so when I moved there I started with Staffan Söderberg immediately. I knew nothing of Staffan or gymnastics in Sweden, but I googled him and saw he was the coach of Veronica Wagner, so I knew I was gonna train with one of the best Swedish coaches.
What was the process like in terms of switching nations for competition purposes?
At first I couldn’t compete for the country because I had no nationality. I was only able to compete at national and international club competitions, and then Swedish Championships [but no FIG events]. After living in Sweden for three years I finally got my nationality in March of this year, and then competed at an internal tournament to qualify for European Championships. I was accepted onto the team and so my first international competition with the Swedish team was Euros last month.
What are the biggest differences in terms of the national programs?
I never belonged to the Argentine team, but from what I saw when I was last there, there were no major differences. They also use internal competitions to determine international teams.
Scores were really close for the top three all-arounders at nationals. Was there a point in the competition where you knew you were going to win?
I thought as long as I have a good vault, that could make a difference to the rest of the competition, and if I was flawless, I could get second or third. Unfortunately I had a fall on bars, but I got good scores on beam and floor which helped me become the champion.
When you realized you won, what were the emotions in mind?
Every effort will someday bring results. I was very happy that I managed to become champion. There are many who dream of that place, so being able to get it is a great satisfaction.
What are your goals for your competition at the World Challenge Cup in Anadia?
I will only compete vault. I have two vaults, at a difficulty of 5.2 and 5.4. I would love to go to the final, of course!
What are your biggest goals for the rest of this season and for the future?
I want to represent Sweden as well as possible, get to go to the World Championships, and hopefully get a place at the Olympics.
As an older gymnast, are there any challenges you face now that you didn’t when you were younger?
Beginning to compete internationally representing a country is a huge challenge for me, something I didn’t do when I was younger. But it is an honor to do so.
What has been the greatest thing you’ve learned in your gymnastics career?
Never give up. Fight for your dreams, because sooner or later they come true. I’m living my dream!
What is your favorite thing about gymnastics?
The satisfaction you feel when you hit a new routine at competitions. Because all efforts are defined on the day you find yourself in front of the judges.
Article by Lauren Hopkins