Feet on the ground, head in clouds for getting a dream
Olympian Rayderley Zapata came to gymnastics thanks to his sisters, who took him to one of the exhibitions held every year on the island. He was seduced by the discipline and after starting classes with the Island Sports Service, it was the Club Isla de Lanzarote who saw his potential and whose colours he has defended since then in national and international competitions.
With several medals in international competitions and an Olympic Games already in his pocket, Ray Zapata tells us in this interview what his next challenges and sporting goals are. The gymnast has had to overcome some difficult times during these years, in which he has had to train in Barcelona and Madrid far from family and friends, but people like Gervasio Deffer, also a Spanish Olympian, have encouraged and supported the athlete from Lanzarote. Deffer, as well as being his coach, is also one of the benchmarks of the sport and one of the people who inspired Ray to work to achieve his dreams.
Gymnastics has given me basically everything.
Now my challenge is to continue training to the fullest to fulfill one of my dreams which is to get an Olympic medal.
Whenever I return to Lanzarote, one of my colleagues wants to accompany me.
When we leave, we return full of life and energy.
Zapata is clear that in gymnastics nothing comes for free and everything that is achieved is based on sacrifice, perseverance and hard work – and even that is not enough to guarantee success, because an injury or a lapse in concentration during an exercise can destroy the work and dedication of several years. The discipline has helped Ray to learn values beyond sport and to demonstrate to those who doubted his commitment that he has been able to achieve everything he set out to achieve in life.
Lanzarote is still very present in the life of the Spanish gymnast and whenever he can he escapes here for a few days to rest and visit his family. For several years now he has run a Christmas camp with the Club Isla de Lanzarote in which he shares his knowledge with the young gymnasts of the island so that they can achieve ambitious goals in the future, such as being in the Olympics.