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IG Online Interview: Simona Castro (Chile)
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At 25, Chilean Olympian Simona Castro has found new drive and passion for gymnastics as she prepares for the upcoming Pan American championships and world championships.

At 25, Chilean Olympian Simona Castro has found new drive and passion for gymnastics as she prepares for the upcoming Pan American championships and world championships.

Castro and her older sister, Martina, are icons of Chile's gymnastics program. Simona became the first Chilean female gymnast to compete at the Olympic Games when she took part in the 2012 London Games. She also spent four years studying at and competing for the University of Denver in the United States. Martina, 28, competed at last year's world championships and in May made two finals at the World Challenge Cup of Anadia, Portugal. Simona also competed in Anadia, where she placed sixth on uneven bars.

In this IG Online interview, Simona details the unspoken challenges she faced in her Olympic debut, the inspiration she gains from her sister, and the forces that continue to drive her.

IG: We have not seen you compete much since the South American Games in March. What are your plans in terms of your next competition, for example, the upcoming Pan American championships/Pan American Games test event in Mississauga (Canada) and the world championships in Nanning?

SC: I had the chance to compete in Portugal this past May but we were not quite ready to start our season yet. I will in fact be at Pan Ams test this August, so hopefully we get to fight for a team spot for our country. And if everything goes well, worlds in China this October.

IG: Where and with whom are you training?

SC: I am training with my all-time coach, Isabel Lazo. She's my mother and has coached me since I was little. I train at a facility here in Santiago, and plan on staying. I believe that she can provide me the knowledge and hours of dedication that I need to get where I want to go. Add to that the fact and all the experience that I gained with my college coaches in Denver, which I can also share with her and the little ones in the gym.

2012 Olympian Simona Castro (Chile)

IG: What has kept you motivated to continue your career, after competing at the Olympics and graduating university?

SC: One of my biggest motivations was the Olympics in 2012. I thought that transitioning after college gymnastics was a bit hard because your body is really tired and all you want to do is take a break. So, I decided to take it easy that year, after graduating, and decided to spend some extra time on my professional career. I spent a couple of months doing my practical training in Colorado and Miami. I had lots of fun and learned lots of new things about the world and about myself, but I was a bit unsatisfied with how many hours I got to spend in the gym. After South American Games in March, which was hosted by my country, I came back to Chile and decided to pursue gymnastics entirely and put a couple of things aside, prioritizing my goals for the next couple of years.

IG: We understand that you were not competing at 100% strength in London; what injuries were bothering you, and how is your injury condition these days?

SC: I must say it was a bit of a rough process going into the Olympics. We definitely tried to ignore all the unfortunate injuries that I encountered, but considering how strong the college season is we were pretty happy with how it turned out. I had some chronic pain in my Achilles' [tendon], an inflamed supraspinatus (muscle in shoulder) and had barely come out from a torn abdominal muscle. After that, injuries were just part of the mental game. Fortunately, I had various doctors and people working with alternative therapies to help me deal with them, and I'm really thankful for it. It just shows me how determined I can be, so that nothing can stop me from doing what I love.

IG: You and your sister Martina have been holding up the Chilean team for many years. In what ways do you and Martina keep each other motivated?

SC: I think we really like to challenge each other. We are competitive in a very positive way, and try to push each other whenever we can. She's always been there for me, and I try to reciprocate. I believe the best memory I've gotten from her is when she was cheering for me on floor at the Olympics, and you could actually hear to her from all the way at the top of the stadium. It meant the world to me.

IG: Looking ahead, what do you think Chile needs to boost its international ranking?

SC: I think we really need to provide good training for the upcoming coaches. There is a lot of interest in gymnastics but I believe there's a lack of quality in coaching. There's been a lot done, but I believe it could be done better. The actual coaches that provide gymnasts for the national team are very few, and I believe we are not taking advantage of their work. We would need to, hopefully, educate people more about gymnastics, its rules and its requirements so they could at least have a basic understanding of how it works. Hopefully we turn into the pioneers who can make that change.

Read "Role Model for Chile," a profile on Simona Castro, in the March 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital versions of IG magazine, click here.

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