July 8, 2016 / 4:16 PM / 3 years ago

From bullying victim, Argentine wrestler seeks Olympic gold

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Bullied by a boy in her primary school, Argentine Patricia Bermudez learnt to fight to get back at him and is now on her way to her second Olympic Games as a wrestler.

Argentine Olympic wrestler Patricia Bermudez (top) fights with training partner Evelyn Sosa at the Cenard Sports Complex ahead of their participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 5, 2016. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Fighting also prepared the 29-year-old from the northern Argentine city of Santiago del Estero for a career in the Gendarmeria, Argentina’s border police force which she joined in 2008.

But if she could earn a living from wrestling she would have retired from the force to work full time on her goals of winning a world championship or Olympic title in Rio.

“I went to the local club (in my district) and told the teacher I wanted to learn to fight to be able hit him,” Bermudez said of the bully she was targeting.

“I was told I would need to train first and that’s how I started,” she said after qualifying for Rio in the 48kg category.

Bermudez competed at the London Olympics in 2012 on the back of winning the bronze medal at the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara the year before.

“I’ve got a lot of objectives, on a sporting level (to reach) a world podium and obviously dream of an Olympic podium,” Bermudez, who splits her day between office duties at the Security ministry in the capital and training, told Reuters.

“I say dream because maybe I can see a world podium closer. The world championships are every year but the Olympics are only every four years which is why I see it more as a dream, though not impossible,” she said in an interview during a break at the Cenard national high performance center in Buenos Aires.

“These are my second Games and I think I’m not too far from a good result,” she added before going on to talk about the sacrifice of working hard towards her goals.

“There are no secrets in this (sport) because it’s getting up, training, getting through it with injuries and a million other things which you often think get in the way, but they fortify you.”

Bermudez only began competing in 2010 and within a year returned from trips abroad with two bronze medals.

“What happened to me in wrestling was very sudden, in that first year in which I started I had three trips all very close together,” she said.

“First, I was transferred to Buenos Aires from Cordoba where I was living at the time and working in the border police, then came the South American Games, a tournament in Cuba and the Pan-Ams.

“In those early competitions after only two weeks as a (full time) wrestler I had finished with two bronzes and I said to myself ‘If I’m getting bronze after two weeks’ fighting what might happen if I dedicated myself to it’.”

This realization brought more enjoyment to her practices and she now dreams of ‘dancing’ her way to an Olympic medal.

“I train with music, as if I were dancing… I get fun from that and I think in a fight it’s the same, you put your fun into your style and the result can come automatically.

“My goal in Rio is to have fun.”

Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Martyn Herman

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