With the post-holiday hangover completely overcome and fully re-energised to face what promises to be a historic season. This is how we were greeted by two true leaders in the world of roller skating: Anna Quintana, captain of the CPA Olot artistic roller skating team, who has eleven World Championships in her list of titles, and Tasha Lee, a rink hockey player with CP Voltregà and captain of the Spanish national team, with which she has won three World Championships and five European Championships. Both athletes are authoritative voices when it comes to assessing the expectations of the World Roller Games Barcelona 2019 after their respective successes at the Nanjing 2017 event, when they both came away with the gold medal.
Combining her preparations for the World Championship in October in La Vendée (France) with the new events of next year, Quintana admitted that there is “a lot” of talk about the next WRG in her club’s environment: "We often see it on social media and we talk about it with respect. I hope we can be there, as it is very exciting". For her part, Lee is showing "great enthusiasm and intensity" in preparing for the European Championship in Mealhada (Portugal) at the CAR in Sant Cugat with the rest of the Spanish team. She wants to take things one step at a time and "focus the team on Portugal", despite admitting that, when it comes to the future, the national team "is thinking about the WRG, because it is a close dream and we want it to be very special".
THE DELIGHTS OF BARCELONA
Both athletes agreed on the importance of the big event in 2019, which "will represent a turning point for small wheel sport". "It will be a huge event", Lee ventured, as well as expressing her confidence that “there will be growing talk" of the event. Along the same lines, Quintana believed that the event "is attracting a lot of attention" and emphasised "the fact that it is taking place in Barcelona, because of the type of city it is and its organisational legacy, will make it spectacular". The successful skater is in fact passionate about the WRG format, as it evokes the traditional Olympic atmosphere.
"I’m already ‘Olympic’. I was born with the Games in Barcelona; I remember them and experienced them... it is the excitement of being part of something almost as big as that event was". It is the emotion of Anna Quintana, who unhesitatingly assesses the fact that artistic skating is being combined with ten other modalities at the WRG 2019 as "very positive": "We are part of something collective, much more expected and major". The only blemish at the Nanjing experience for the CPA Olot captain was missing "the fact that the venues could have been closer to each other" in order to share the experience with the other athletes. Something that Tasha Lee was indeed able to enjoy: "What we experienced in Nanjing was really nice. Having everything so close together helps athletes to feel supported by other athletes, even if they compete in another modality. Living together there was really nice". "I think it will be even better in Barcelona because I see a lot of people involved and Spain has a good chance of winning in almost all modalities", ventured the famous rink hockey player.
STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY
The long-distance race to bring women’s sport to the level it deserves will write a very significant chapter at the WRG 2019. "We are not at a standstill, but it is a fact that we are light years away from what we deserve", Lee said, decrying that "women’s sport is winning many things, but hardly anybody knows it". Quintana also agreed, saying that "they are probably not on the same level" as men’s sport, despite admitting that "a lot of progress has been made". In this context, the WRG can play a major role to generate "a lot of momentum". "In fact, Ramon [Basiana, the Catalan Roller Sports Federation president] presented it as a major input. It is a big decision and I believe it will help a lot", said Anna.
PROFESSIONALISM AND SOCIETY
Convinced that "women’s sport will grow and achieve greater momentum in a city like Barcelona, where sport is a priority", Lee is also clear about what buttons have to be pushed to speed up the process: "Women’s sport needs to be professional. We sacrifice ourselves. There are many men athletes in our field –rink hockey– who make a living from this. They get up and go to work, which is rink hockey, and that is all. But we don’t. We have to find our own jobs, because we can’t make a living from it. That is a very big jump. It is a key point, alongside that of media promotion, that the teams themselves provide professionalism to men and women". Quintana, on the other hand, advocates a change of mentality in today’s society: "The main issue is not institutions or the media, but that society accepts it as something normal, that a woman should be as good at competing as a man and view this in the same way. It is a matter of culture and society". "Institutions and the media must help to promote it, but it is something universal and the first step must be taken by all of us", she concluded.