A two-time Spanish champion, third place in the general ranking of the FISE World Series and named “Bladie of the Year” by the Royal Spanish Roller Sports Federation (RFEP). A long time will have to pass before Mery Muñoz can forget this 2018, although there is no room for rest in her mind with a huge bunch of ambitious challenges looming around the corner for her.
Two years packed with successes in her recent career are proof that she is an athlete marked by the flame of an enormous spirit of improvement. The year 2018 will always have a special place in her heart after her brilliant performances in two of the three scoring rounds of the FISE World Series. Her absence in Hiroshima prevented her from reaching even greater heights, but her victory in Montpellier and second place in Chengdu, earning her third place in the general ranking, lead us to believe that at 28 years of age her sports limits are still unimaginable.
Her rash of recent successes is nothing more than the result of her enormous dedication, something that this rider from Bilbao acknowledges: “This year has meant the reward for many years of effort in terms of skating and competing. Now I can finally relax and compete at ease, without so much stress, because I’ve already reached a certain level for quite a while now and continue to maintain it. I’m still learning things, but in a more comfortable way now. I’m reaping all the good things now, but they’ve been the result of the work I’ve been doing for so many years”.
In addition to that of her titles, Mery has had the pleasure of experiencing even more satisfying sensations: “The FISE paying for my trip to Chengdu was already a prize for me. I think they’ll count on me from now on in more editions throughout the world”, she concludes confidently after an outstanding year.
Challenge of shining in Barcelona
Her victory at the 2nd Spanish Roller Freestyle Championship, held in La Nucía, provided Mery with one of the first wildcards of the World Roller Games in Barcelona. A privilege she also shared with Spanish rider Álex Cebrián. Her standing had already led us to believe that she would somehow earn her way into the 2019 event, but to do so in such a way “feels a lot better, as if I were making a big entrance”. Originally from Bilbao, Mery has been living in Barcelona for six years, which means that the WRG in the Catalan capital will feel extra special for her, especially after her third place in Nanjing 2017, capping off a great year alongside her well-earned victory at Winterclash in Eindhoven: “We’ll be competing at home and this is a great help. Sleeping in your bed and competing next door is a bonus, compared to the jet lag of China, but the enthusiasm remains the same.”
Beyond individual challenges, the multidisciplinary format of the WRG attracts Mery for its ability “to formalise our sport”. “A lot of us come from skateparks and the street, so to speak, so for us it’s like things are finally starting to be seen in a different way”. She therefore celebrates the ever-growing media impact. It is an attractive environment in which to try to reign supreme in Barcelona next July. But in order to do this, this Spanish team rider will have to compete against various top-level rivals. She does not hesitate in naming a few of these, such as France’s young Lisa-Marie Authié, second-place after Mery in Montpellier (FISE), or Britain’s Kayla Carmichael, “who won imaginExtreme Barcelona in 2017”, without forgetting her compatriot Sara Vilella. But everything indicates that Japan’s Azuma Chihiro, the outstanding winner in Chengdu and current champion of the first WRG, will be Mery’s main threat, so she will be closely following the Japanese rider’s progress.
Insatiable inside and outside skatepark
Fully immersed in her sporting career, Mery barely has the time to stop and smell the roses of her most recent successes. The thoughtful way she has of expressing herself contrasts with a restless mind that has led her to pose many challenges inside and outside the skatepark. While keeping an eye on her next training session at the end of the month in Madrid, where she wants to polish up some new tricks to “make a difference” in the month of July, Mery is also actively trying to help in any way she can to promote Roller Freestyle, especially the women’s category.
With the WRG on the horizon, she claims that “many European riders need a federation to compete” internationally and recalls the specific case of Carmichael, who “tried to go to China but wasn’t able to do so”. The case is in stark contrast with that of other countries such as Japan, China or Colombia, which “are indeed strongly committed to federations”. But everything often becomes reduced to purely financial questions. A factor that is unfortunately familiar to her when it comes to international competitions: “Normally, it’s either paid for by the organisation or it’s not worth it for me”. This is the sad reality of many riders who also have to address the divide that still exists with the men’s category in terms of financial questions.
Dream triplet of 2019
Firm and determined when it comes to performing her tricks, Mery also does not hesitate to champion the fight for greater recognition of women’s sport. A battle in which the WRG are fully involved. Muñoz has indeed gone one step further with an Instagram channel of girl skaters –BladiesTV– with which she hopes to obtain funding for a tour and help other fellow riders next summer: “I always try to fight for this”. She is also using her project to try and produce “a documentary promoting sport in general and women in particular”. Initially conceived at a national level, the doco has assumed a new dimension in the last few months and all indications are that it will be broadcast at a European level.
In addition to the challenge of winning at the WRG in Barcelona and full exploiting her audiovisual facet –she currently makes a living by giving skating classes and making online videos– Mery wants to include a third ultimate big challenge to next year. In her mind she is already decisively planning her desire to form her own club in Barcelona “to be able to make a living from this”. This warrior woman of countless challenges has in her sights in 2019 that of conquering the world and the WRG seem to be the perfect setting to write a special place for herself in the history of Roller Freestyle. But for the moment, she is already leaving her mark with what she is saying, which is almost as attractive as her skatepark style. She will provide a lot to talk about.